Mike Bennett is the third Thompson Okanagan Football Club player signing with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s soccer team for their inaugural season in the CIS Canada West conference.
Bennett, a Fulton grad, is looking forward to donning the orange and black this fall in Kamloops.
“I became interested in TRU once they entered the CIS,” said Bennett. “I wanted to be part of that transition.”
The WolfPack’s training camp is underway and they played a friendly Thursday night against the UBCO Heat at UBCO Field.
The teams didn’t keep score, but focused on the systems they have been implementing in practice.
“The first 60-70 minutes, we controlled most of the play,” said WolfPack men’s soccer coach John Antulov. “The guys bought into the game what we had been working on in training. I was very happy to see how the young guys played in the scrimmage.”
Corey Wallis of Enderby had a strong debut as the WolfPack co-captain. Wallis enters his fourth season with the Pack.
“We need our veteran players to calm things down, to communicate, to organize. For the most part all our vets did that today,” said Antulov. “It was evident when Corey was in the back how organized it was.”
Bennett played for 45 minutes of mistake-free soccer.
“I didn’t do anything special. I thought the team looked pretty good despite us being short a few guys,” said Bennett.
The Pack continues training camp this week before heading to Edmonton for three exhibition matches.
“Training camp has been going pretty good. I’m starting to get used to the four-hour practices in the heat,” said Bennett.
Bennett will celebrate his 18th birthday on the pitch on the road this October as the WolfPack take on the University of Victoria Vikings. He moved around the country as a kid, but has always had soccer to fall back on.
“I like to hangout and relax with my friends, but soccer takes up most of my time,” said Bennett.
Bennett became attached to the French national team during their run at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Despite Zinedine Zidane’s antics in extra-time, he has followed the team ever since.
France will host the 2016 Euro Cup, and by the time that rolls around, Bennett will be much more accustomed to campus life. But for now, he begins his collegiate career with a few buddies.
A pair of Bennett’s TOFC teammates, Nathan Hawe of Nakusp and Finlay McPhie of Vernon, will join him on the WolfPack this fall. The three played under head coach Jason Thompson.
“It’s not something we planned, it just kind of happened,” said Bennett.
The five-foot-eight, 140-pound right back didn’t know he would attend TRU until recently.
“I had plans to go elsewhere, but TRU was a better fit for me,” said Bennett.
McPhie and Bennett will bunk up at the TRU Residence building and they are both in the business administration program.
Antulov and his new coaching staff, which includes Vernon native and former WolfPack star Sebastian Gardner, are just getting acquainted with Bennett, but they like what they see.
“He (Bennett) approached me a few weeks ago looking to come work out with us,” said Antulov. “So we brought him in for a workout and I was really happy with what I saw. He has a great attitude, he is one of the fittest guys at camp, he has great touch and he sees the game well.
“He is a guy we can build into a real player one day.”
The WolfPack kick off their Canada West schedule against the Trinity Western University Spartans Friday, Sept. 12, at Hillside Stadium.
The WolfPack went 10-2-2 last year in the Pac West and captured the silver medal at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association nationals in Saint John, N.B.