Two Vernon soccer products will play university ball close to home.
The UBC Okanagan Heat have announced the signing of midfielders Maddy Laranjo and Maya Bandy, teammates on the Thompson Okanagan Football Club.
Laranjo, five-foot-five, who graduates in June from W.L. Seaton Secondary, comes to the Heat with a strong soccer resume.
She has played the last four years with the TOFC in the BC Soccer Premier League, during the last of which she was named captain by her coach and teammates. She has also been a part of the Whitecaps Okanagan School Academy in Vernon for the past five years.
While Laranjo has continued to play nearly every sport throughout her high school career, soccer is undoubtedly her focus.
“I play a minimum of 10 hours of soccer a week throughout the fall and winter,” said Laranjo, who intends to make the most of being a UBC Okanagan student-athlete.
“As both an athlete and a student, I am very passionate and determined. I have balanced my education and many athletics all through high school, and I will continue to do so in university. I plan to continue to play soccer, volunteer, coach, and pursue a degree in human kinetics.
“I am really looking forward to being a part of the UBCO Heat team and training under coach Claire Paterson next fall. I have been playing the wonderful game of soccer for many years, (but) I know I have much more to learn and am very eager to gain more knowledge of the game at the university level.”
The 5-foot-5 attacking centre midfielder has also used her knowledge of, and passion for, the game to move into coaching as well, starting with kids aged four to nine in the Soccerpatch program in North Okanagan Youth Soccer, and volunteers as a coach with Special Olympics B.C.
Currently attending Kalamalka Secondary, Bandy, a 5-foot-6 midfielder, will check off one of her goals by suiting up in the blue and gold of the Heat.
“Being raised in Vernon, I have grown up watching and hearing about the UBC Okanagan women’s soccer team and I have aspired to play with them one day,” said Bandy. “I am very excited to play with them in the coming season, representing my home area and being coached by Claire Paterson at the CIS level.”
Bandy’s resume also includes a spring with Team B.C. in 2014. The versatile midfielder, who has played centre mid and on both the right and left sides in both defensive and attacking roles so far in her career, played in the Portland Timbers Cup with Team B.C. and tallied a pair of assists.
Paterson, entering her ninth season as the head coach of the Heat, is familiar with Bandy, who has been playing for Heat assistants Ashlee Davison and Carmen Lindsay on the TOFC Club team since 2013.
“I have had the opportunity to work with Maya over several years in the Whitecaps Okanagan School Academy,” said Paterson.
“She has developed into a strong player with good technical ability, vision and composure, her game continued to develop in the BCSPL. It is wonderful Maya has decided to stay close to home and play with the Heat next year.”
Paterson has also had the opportunity to see Laranjo flourish into a very technically sound player over the past few years within the Whitecaps High School Academy.
“She is an incredibly hard-working, competitive athlete who has been an engine for her BCSPL team,” said Paterson.
“I believe Maddy will bring a lot to the program as she continues to grow as a player at the CIS level.”