The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s soccer team has joined forces with the Okanagan FC Premier women’s soccer team to enhance the development of the top level women’s soccer players in the region.
Okanagan FC plays against elite teams from British Columbia in a national amateur women’s soccer league called the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCLS). They will face fierce competition including the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Prospects, Vancouver Thunderbirds, Fraser Valley Action and Victoria Highlanders. Many of these teams are comprised primarily of current university/collegiate athletes.
“It’s a fantastic way to improve the level of our UBC Okanagan program as well as provide an opportunity for the elite female athletes in the area,” says Heat head coach Claire Paterson.
This year, the Okanagan FC will be a mix of UBC Okanagan players and players that have been part of the Okanagan FC in previous years. “There has been a great buy-in from current UBC Okanagan players and many of my out of town student athletes are choosing to stay over the summer to play together. It looks like over half of the roster will be made up of current Heat players and UBC Okanagan women’s soccer prospects.”
Paterson has been the head coach of the program for the past three years and is excited for this summer’s collaboration to keep more Heat players in the Okanagan practicing at a high level year-round.
“This arrangement is a perfect fit as it’s an extension of the university team,” comments Paterson. “Providing our student athletes an opportunity to play in the top level amateur league in B.C. will take us to the next level. It’s fantastic that this opportunity is available for our student athletes.”
Paterson has seen the success of having university student athletes playing club together over the summer months as the UBC Okanagan team has been elevated to new heights. The Heat finished 1st in their division in 2010 with an impressive undefeated season and repeated with a first place finish in 2011 with only one loss. The Heat have also qualified for the provincial championships the past three years in a row, earning a Bronze medal in 2010, a Silver medal in 2011, and made the first ever Championship appearance in program history in 2009.
A premier women’s PCSL team from the Okanagan has been in existence since 1999 with a hiatus from the league from 2005-2007. The premier women’s spot has changed hands several times through its existence, previously being tied to the Okanagan Challenge (1999, 2000, 2004), Kelowna/Okanagan Predators (2001, 2002, 2003), Kelowna United (2008) and the Okanagan Whitecaps FC (2009, 2010). The latest name change came in 2011.
The Okanagan FC program will start in early April with practices and games held at the Heat’s home turf, the Nonis Sports Field.
Heat players that have confirmed their participation in the program are as follows:
Lindsey Briggs (2nd year, Forward, Delta)
Hayley Uyeyama (3nd year, Defense, Kelowna)
Kristen Dodds (1st year, Forward, Vernon)
Michelle Smith (1st year, Midfield, Vernon)
Sabrina Gasparac (4th year, Keeper, Langley)
Marissa Klees (2nd year, Mid/Forward, Bellingham)
Taylor Sarchet (3rd year, Midfield, Surrey)
Janelle Neill (RS, Defense, Chilliwack)
Elizabeth Babcock (3rd year, Defense, Calgary)
Lana Finlay (1st year, Forward, Kelowna)
Madeliene Greig (2nd year, Midfield, Penticton)