WolfPack women’s soccer team begins preparation for the 2016-17 Canada West regular season on Monday, Aug 8.
The WolfPack will begin two-a-day workouts Monday at noon at Hillside Stadium. They will also practice at 8 p.m.
There will be a lot of new faces in training camp. They belong not only to a number of new players but also an entirely new coaching staff from the WolfPack team which made the Canada West playoffs last season.
Kelly Shantz has taken over as the team’s new head coach. The longtime Kamloops Youth Soccer head man and former TRU assistant coach replaces Tom McManus, who has moved to coaching College Men’s Soccer in Alberta.
“Let’s get started,” he enthusiastically said. “I have always loved tryouts and training camp as a coach. It signifies a fresh start for everyone and a time of optimism and enthusiasm. This year is obviously a little out of the ordinary with a very high turnover of players and a completely new coaching staff. But all of that lends even more credence to the ‘fresh start’ aspect.”
Shantz is expecting just over 25 players to be on the field at Hillside on Monday.
“It is a little lower than I think will be typical. I came into the team in mid-April which is a bit of a late start on recruiting. I didn’t want to fill camp with just anybody. I like the quality we have coming in. “
Who’s more excited about getting into formal preparations, the coach or the players?
“I hope it’s the players,” Shanz laughed. “It is such a cool part of an athlete’s life to get the opportunity to play a varsity sport in the country’s top league while pursuing their academics. I hope every prospect is thrilled for the chance and ready to make the most of it. Training camp should be an exciting, exhilarating time for all of us.”
With a huge number of freshmen, Shantz is looking to two veterans to lead the way.
“I think Kindra Maricle (4th year, Kamloops) is ready for a lead role and establishing herself as a top midfielder and defender. I think Kindra has matured, worked hard and has her best focus ever and will have a great year for us. Natalie Verdiel (2nd year, Powell River) has the potential to be key for us and a good leader as well. She played a ton of minutes last year as a true freshman and performed very well.”
Some first year players have tremendous leadership potential as well. “Cassie Morris, Sasha Sirianni and Emerson Hansen in the midfield all have that ability and may be counted on very early in their careers to show that. Hannah Marra will probably lead by example with her non-stop work ethic and positive attitude.” All four of those girls are products of the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association REP program.
Shantz and his staff don’t have an exhibition game until mid-August so they have some time to get ready.
The WolfPack open their 2016-17 Canada West season Saturday, September 10th in Calgary against the Dinos. Their first home match is Saturday, Sept. 17, at Hillside Stadium against the University of Alberta Pandas. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
THROW INS: Shantz is excited about his coaching staff: “ I am thrilled to have an enthusiastic and accomplished set of assistant coaches committed this season. They are just as excited as me to get going and bring a ton of experience and leadership to the program. Kevin Fertile has come back and I think Kevin is one of the finest tacticians in the amateur game. He brings a calm, thoughtful approach to the game. I have three girls getting experience in the coaching side this year as well. Alumni and varsity stars Alanna Bekkering and Danielle Fauteux will be adding their voices and elite experience to guiding this young group as they learn the CIS ropes and Taylor Shantz will oversee the specialized keeper training — bringing her five years of varsity experience and wealth of learning from top keeper coaches to our group of netminders.”