Coral Deleff will carry her former coach Andy Waughman’s smile as she begins a university women’s soccer career with the Acadia Axemen in Nova Scotia later this month.
The 18-year-old outside fullback and central midfielder lists the late youth soccer technical director as her hero.
“I did a camp with him when I moved here the summer of Grade 8,” said Deleff, who shared the $1,000 youth soccer association George Stein Memorial Bursary with fellow Kalamalka grads Mary Bennett and Kyra-Rae Horvath.
“He made you so inspired to be the best you could. You wanted his acknowledgment and approval. You worked so hard just to hear his cheeky comment. He was drilling you into the ground one moment and making you laugh the next. He expressed the love of soccer through every part of his body.”
All three soccer bursary recipients played for the Okanagan Whitecaps FC this past season, all crediting head coach and NOYSA technical director Claire Paterson for preparing them for CIS play.
Deleff considered Mt. Allison in New Brunswick but fell in love with Acadia (Wolfville) after meeting the coach, Amit Batra, and team. Training camp starts Aug. 24.
“I’m aggressive and consistent,” said Deleff, when asked to describe her style. “I don’t jump in. You have to be patient as a defender, just work off the play. I love doing the overlap run with our midfielders.”
Deleff, who was born in Fort McMurray, Alta., will study sciences. She won a bunch of academic scholarships and will receive funding from Acadia. The Axemen open Sept. 7 against the Moncton Aigles Bleus.
Also heading to Nova Scotia is Bennett, who was born in Halifax and will play for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in Antigonish.
The 5-foot-3 midfielder checked out the school in February and is thrilled to be going back to her roots.
“I have family there and the school is really well known for its satisfaction and spirit, and it had a good feel. I stayed with a few players and did some things with the team.”
Bennett moved to Vernon three years ago from Whitehorse. She represented the Yukon in both the Canada Games and Western Canadian Games, playing as an under-ager with U18 teams.
“We did surprisingly well,” she said. “All our games were within a goal except for when we played Ontario.”
Bennett, who turns 18 in September, is a serious soccer junkie who closely followed Christine Sinclair and Team Canada at the London Olympics.
“I watch soccer all the time – Premiership, Champions League. All my family does. I’m a big Chelsea fan. I get up at 4:30 and watch the games live with my brother, Mike (15), and my mom, Monique.”
St. FX, who have a pre-season game Aug. 30, won their conference in 2009 and placed fourth last year, so Bennett is going to a team with high hopes.
“My strengths are passing, connecting the play. I’m pretty aggressive in the middle, winning 50-50 balls and distributing the ball.”
Horvath will play collegiate soccer a little closer to home with the University of Calgary Dinos.
Born and raised in Alberta until moving here for Grade 10 and the Whitecaps Academy, Horvath is a 5-foot-4, left-footed striker with wheels and a good knack for scoring.
“I love the fast pace of soccer,” she said. “I’m very competitive when I’m in a game. I’m very focused and I’m tiny, but mighty.”
She swims in her backyard pool and Kal Lake for fun and fitness, and is now trying a new recreation.
“I’m dating a bullrider (former North Okanagan Knights’ hockey captain Laine Keyes) so I’m riding a lot of horses and I’m loving it.”
Like her Kal soccer buddies, Horvath learned a ton from Paterson and David Broadhurst in the Caps academy.
“I really learned about composure on the ball, being relaxed and not giving it away.”
Horvath gained her scholarship in April and should get decent minutes since coach Matt Shepherd signed 10 rookies for the fall season starting Sept. 6.
Horvath will study kinesiology with an eye towards sports training. She’s also interested in women’s sport psychology.
All three Stein bursary winners gave back to the game by volunteering as Soccer Patch coaches.
George Stein, who died in 1996, helped found youth soccer in Vernon some 50 years ago. He and the late Fred Mann were key cogs in the construction of the MacDonald Park clubhouse.
“We’re always looking for young players who contribute to the organization which helped bring them up,” said George’s son, Marty, a UBC Thunderbirds grad who, due to injury, retired from oldtimers a few years ago, but stays in the game as a referee.