Sitting together post-practice, it is obvious that soccer players Bianca Jakisa, Andie Vanderlaan and Daphne Wallace have some serious chemistry. While they may not be completing each other’s sentences, the young women feed off each other, laughing freely and sharing stories.
Jakisa and Vanderlaan have known each other since before they both started at Dalhousie. Jakisa left her Mississauga club team when she was 15 or 16 and joined the Burlington Sting, a team Vanderlaan had been playing with since she was eight.
When it came time to choose universities, “Soccer was kind of the first thing that caught my eye,” says Vanderlaan. Followed closely by the fact that all three young women wanted to move away for school and get out of “On-terrible.”
Nearly two weeks before the school year started, the three young women arrived early for training camp. Vanderlann says she still remembers the first time she spotted Wallace.
“We all got into res a week and a half early and I saw a blonde girl walking around, I just knew it had to be Daphne,” she says. Vanderlaan’s dad would end up being the one to introduce Wallace to his daughter and Jakisa.
Playing on the same soccer team and all living in Howe Hall meant they were always in close proximity. The young women were the only players recruited that year, meaning they were the only first-year players until open try-outs finished two weeks into the school year. They spent that time bonding over how nervous they were to play, the grueling fitness training and the intimidation of joining an established team.
It wasn’t long before the three young women were spending all of their time together on and off the field: having TV marathons in their downtime, eating all their meals together in the cafeteria or walking back to Howe together after returning from away games.
“When I’m out, I always text my soccer teammates first,” says Jakisa.
What’s made their friendship last is the fact they’re all very similar. “We’re all just really supportive of each other,” says Wallace matter-of-factly. “Plus, we all play different positions so there was never any competition between us,” chimes in Jakisa, who plays striker (Wallace plays midfield and Vanderlaan plays back).
Though it’s been difficult to juggle school and soccer, time-management has been an integral part of success on and off the field, says Jakisa.
“You win AUS and you’re back for a day and then you’re gone to the CIS championship, so it’s see you later school,” says Vanderlaan. But Wallace says it’s all about being dedicated and staying on top of your school work during the short soccer season. Not only has soccer been the instigator of their friendship, it has also allowed them to explore new places when the team goes on road trips, including Montreal and Victoria for the 2011 and 2012 CIS Championships.
“We’ve been across Canada together,” says Jakisa, something not all friends have the opportunity to experience.
All three players have been integral parts of the team’s recent success and have been consistent starters the past three years. They all played big roles last year in the AUS and CIS championships. Wallace scored two goals in the AUS Final last year against CBU to win 3-1, while Jakisa scored the lone goal in the 1-0 win over Sherbrooke to place fifth last year at the CIS Championships. Vanderlaan logged huge minutes for the squad and helped solidify the Tigers defense.
When the soccer season ends, there will still be tons of team activities says Jakisa, who loves off-season group outings. Plus the “soccer clique” will have a basketball intramural team come January. The young women are all very athletic and competitive, so they love trying out different sports (and failing like Jakisa, who’s just not made for basketball, she claims).
“In first year, your biggest responsibility was picking up the balls because someone told you to,” says Wallace. Vanderlaan agrees: “You were always pushing yourself to meet these expectations.”
“Now in our fourth year, we’re setting the example,” says Wallace, while Jakisa quickly adds that as a senior player, “you put the team before yourself.”
“They’re the sheep and we’re the shepherds!” Vanderlaan exclaims, as the young women laugh and realize they’ve come full circle.
comments powered by Disqus