Both play the game of soccer with passion, and both have demonstrated the ability to give back to the sport they love.
Vernon’s Madelyn Smith and Kenzel Aarts-Roman are the 2018 George Stein Memorial Soccer Bursary recipients, presented by North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.
Each receives $500 toward their post-secondary education, with both heading to Alberta. Smith will study biomedical engineering at the University of Alberta, and Aarts-Roman will be enrolled in the leadership program at Lethbridge College and playing for the school’s Kodiaks men’s team.
Bursary applicants must be deemed eligible and in good standing with NOYSA and BC Soccer, must display a high level of dedication to soccer as a player and/or referee or coach and be a Canadian citizen or be a landed immigrant permanently residing in Canada.
The bursaries are in memory of Stein, who died in 1996. He was a strong supporter and coach of soccer in Greater Vernon, helping the late Fred Mann build the MacDonald Park clubhouse which jumpstarted youth play.
Smith started playing soccer through NOYSA’s Soccer Patch league when she was six, then joined the Vernon United Development squad at 11, playing rep soccer ever since. She was also a member of both the referee and coaching communities.
“During my years in soccer, I have discovered its ability to help me cope with and release stress,” said Smith, who hopes to play recreationally around her studies in Edmonton. “I know that soccer will play a key role in me being able to compete for positions in schools and obtain high marks because of its de-stressing nature for me. I know soccer will play always play a large role in the physical activity and recreation aspects of life.”
Smith has been a co-captain of United squads every year since U13.
“Maddy trains as she plays and I was consistently impressed with her ability to play hard and still provide the social connection expected from your captain,” said her coach, Alan Gee. “Maddy was well-liked and respected by everyone.”
Aarts-Roman surrounds himself with soccer.
He volunteered an enormous amount of time with the North Okanagan soccer programs and has a true passion and dedication to impact children with the same amount of love for the sport he has.
“Being able to teach new information is fulfilling since I know I have taught them successfully,” said Aarts-Roman, who hopes to improve on his coaching through college.
Said Anthony Vassallo, Vancouver Whitecaps assistant head coach at the Okanagan Academy Centre, where Aarts-Roman was a student for two years: “Kenzel has volunteered his time to the local soccer community working with children aged six to 12. He coached an under seven boys team with our local club and he has also started his coaching credentials by participating in BC Soccer’s Soccer For Life coaching course.”
He plans to return to the Okanagan and work with the Okanagan Whitecaps programs and get involved with coaching the school soccer program.
Stein’s grandchildren, Danny Stein, Andrew Stein and Melanie Yeroschak made the bursary presentations to Smith and Aarts-Roman at the Vernon Toyota Indoor Soccer Centre.