The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Cascades have scored a speeding bullet.
Vernon’s Kailyn Halvorson, 19, is a fast, five-foot-six blond dynamo on the soccer pitch who has landed in Abbotsford with the Cascades.
Rob Giesbrecht, Cascades head coach, said Halvorson improved dramatically throughout her last years of youth soccer and is thrilled she decided to attend UFV to continue her progress.
“Kailyn is a quick, athletic defender. We look forward to her adding pace and athleticism to our team,” said Giesbrecht.
At the time when Giesbrecht started pursuing Halvorson, she was thinking she wouldn’t have a future in soccer due to a leg injury that required ACL surgery.
“I trained hard to get back into shape,” said Halvorson.
Born in Abbotsford, Halvorson started playing soccer when she was only four, and two years later, she moved to Vernon.
Her love for being outside and exercising, along with the friendships she could make, fueled her need to play when she was younger.
“Now, I love the whole game in general,” said Halvorson.
In Grade 10, she was frustrated with her team situation because she wasn’t getting a lot of playing time and felt deflated.
“I had contemplated giving up on soccer and forgetting my dreams of playing university soccer,” said Halvorson.
Neil McPhie, her coach through her youth playing years, believed in her abilities and stepped in to give her one-on-one training to improve her skills.
“Neil saw my potential and pushed me to not give up on my dreams,” Halvorson said.
With McPhie coaching her in many various sessions and soccer camps, she became stronger and ended up playing for the Vernon United team, helping the squad win three consecutive bronze medals at provincial championships.
Around the time of Halvorson’s injury, McPhie, who pushed her when she needed it most, passed away after a battle with brain cancer.
“He believed in me and was very influential, not only in soccer, but in my life,” she said.
She went through a long journey where she didn’t know if she would be able to play soccer again, but she knew her coach wouldn’t want her to give up.
“I wanted to push hard for him,” said Halvorson.
She graduated from Vernon Secondary School and spent her first year of a four-year program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) in Kelowna where she was in a car accident not long after her ACL surgery.
That delayed her soccer recovery and she struggled with symptoms for six months while attending classes, but she pushed through because she knew it was only another hardship that she could overcome.
“I have realized things don’t come easily,” she said.
Halvorson will start her second year of post-secondary school at UFV in the kinesiology program and feels like she is going home to pursue her soccer dreams.
“I chose UFV for the exceptional academics and high-performance soccer program,” Halvorson said.
She credits her success to her coaches, especially McPhie, for helping her achieve her goals of playing university soccer.
“Although he is not here, I am sure he would be proud of me and what I have accomplished,” she said.