Vernon’s Kaiden Sherwood turns 14 in February but she’s already been identified as a rising star by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX program.
Sherwood, a Grade 8 Seaton student, represented the Thompson Okanagan FC (TOFC) in the Pacific Northwest Winter Classic a few weeks ago in Seattle. In December, the striker/winger attended the week-long REX training camp in Vancouver.
The REX program is headed by former New Zealand national team and FIFA Women’s World Cup player Emma Humphries, Whitecaps FC Girls Elite head coach and women’s academy director. Humphries has been to Vernon several times scouting players.
“The program is built on four pillars of development – physical, technical/tactical, mental, and social/emotional,” said Kai Tolpinrud of TOFC. “Management, coaches and players congratulate Kaiden on this honour and look forward to helping her toward continued success and development.”
The Whitecaps hope to track players like Sherwood through a national EXCEL program, a six-year structure for developing female players U-14 to U-20 who demonstrate the highest level of ability in preparation for their contribution to Canada’s women’s team.
Sherwood was invited to the REX camp based on feedback and performance levels within the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League and BC Soccer High Performance Program. Sherwood and other TOFC stars also took part in a four-day High Performance Program (HPP) camp at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium in December.
Vernon’s David Broadhurst, technical advisor for TOFC, says Sherwood is a gem.
“She’s got bags of ability and the thing with Kaiden is that she’s so attacking-minded; that’s quite rare,” said Broadhurst. “She’s got the desire and aggressiveness which is a good quality.”
The smiling and modest Sherwood, who is coached by Vernon’s Carli Tingstad, says the elite camp was a blast.
“It built my confidence up; I got a lot of touches, and in the game, I was checking a girl just as strong as me and that helped me get better.”
Sherwood gets her share of goals, converting often with the rare ability to curve the ball. She’s the consummate teammate.
“I’m a very positive player. I try to find gaps between players and a strength of mine is dribbling and people say I’m very fast.”
She started soccer in Li’l Kickers and used to compete in ski racing before committing full time to the beautiful game.
Kevin Morgan is a Grade 10 VSS student and keeper with TOFC. Morgan, who turns 16 in April, and a Fraser Valley invite, were the opposing keepers in daily scrimmages at the HPP camp.
“There were about 20 kids and we played the Mountain U17s at the end of the camp and we won 3-0,” said Morgan, who gets major help from TOFC keeper coach Tolpinrud. “I played the second half and saved a breakaway.”
On his style between the posts, Morgan said: “I’m pretty aggressive. You can easily second-guess yourself but I’m pretty consistent.”
The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder is a multi-sport athlete. He used to play hockey, but quit to focus more on basketball, football and soccer. He was a clutch player with the provincial football champion VSS Junior Panthers.
Ava Wright, a winger who marked her 13th birthday last September, is in Grade 8 at Kalamalka Secondary. She also enjoyed the High Performance camp, getting a few scoring chances in the scrimmages.
“I know where to go and I’m fast,” said Wright, who is already doing winter training with the TOFC Under 14s with Sherwood and Sophie Dennis. “I want to work on my shooting; shoot harder and with more accuracy.”
Wright, who played up an age division as a nine-year-old, presses hard from the front of the field and plays an intelligent game from the back. She also plays high school hoops and volleyball.
Molly Rice moved to Vernon in 2016 after taking up soccer in Kemptville, Ont. (near Ottawa). Born in Calgary, the Grade 10 Fulton athlete also looks to Tolpinrud for advice and received tips from Luka Della Pace of B.C. Soccer at the Empire Stadium camp.
“I started in Li’l Kickers and I had a really good time,” said Rice, who has an October birth date. “It’s what all the kids were doing at that age. I’ve been a keeper with TOFC for two years. I’m aggressive, like a sweeper-keeper. I like to get involved in the play. My goal kicks are good, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Rice, who lines up as a striker with Fulton in high school soccer, has started TOFC U16 practices alongside fellow Vernon player Tori Hauptman.
Liam Glennon, a Grade 10 Seaton student, was at the HPP camp and is also in Vancouver once a month for training with the Team B.C. U16s. He’s headed to Las Vegas with the TOFC U16s for the Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in mid-February.
“I’m a holding midfielder with Team B.C. and more of an attacking midfielder with TOFC (U16s)” said Glennon, who turns 16 a few days before the Vegas flight to the MGM Grand.