– Thompson Rivers University
Kamloops, BC—One thing you can’t say about Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s soccer coach Tom McManus is that he doesn’t look to the future.
McManus has signed his third recruit for the 2016-17 Canada West season with the announcement that keeper Alyssa Smith of Langley BC (Walnut Grove Secondary) has indicated she will be attending TRU.
“I heard a lot of good things about Thompson Rivers University,” said Smith, who hopes to get into the nursing program at TRU once she graduates in the spring of 2016.
The 5’5” Smith has heard about TRU and the women’s soccer program for years. That is because her neighbors in Langley are the McAuley’s. Their daughters Abbey and Chloe were mainstays of the Thompson Rivers program from 2007-13.
“It was actually Abbey who got in touch with me,” McManus said about how he connected with Smith. “ It was her dad who got in touch with her. One of Alyssa’s coaches said I would know her. I couldn’t remember where I had seen her but her name did sound familiar. Abbey is looking forward to seeing Alyssa wear a TRU uniform”.
“I have been a keeper for a long time,” Smith says. “I started in U-10. I like diving and stopping the ball.”
She feels her kicks and agility are her main strengths.
During her visit to Kamloops, she worked out for McManus: “ She has great hands. Extremely vocal and organizes her defence very well. I am quite excited about her coming here. She has played provincially a couple of times and with a BCPSL team. She is a quality keeper and I look forward to her coming in 2016.”
Smith plays for the U-18 Langley Wolves in Division I. She has played HPL in the Langley area but dropped out of the program to concentrate on her grades.
Michael Chadney coached her this past season. “ Alyssa is not only an athletic goaltender but a leader at practice. She is not afraid to put in the hard work during cardio sessions and is a leader on the team. She doesn’t make idle chat during practice or games. She is very focused. On the field, she isn’t afraid to provide instruction to the back line and helps organize the defense on the field.
Chadney adds: “ Our team has progressively improved since we took over the top level team with the club from Langley 4 years ago. The addition of Alyssa is the MAIN reason we have stayed competitive at the Division 1 level. She is not only an effective keeper, she is very fit and very fast and can spread her range on the field and becomes almost a fifth defender ‘sweeper’ role, which removes the ‘deep ball’ often played in by opposing teams. She is actually similar to Manuel Neurer of the German National team, although not as ‘risky’. She has the ability to play the ball equally as well with her feet and her hands. Alyssa brings a new level of soccer intelligence and field management to the team. She helps guide the girls with either advancing the play more quickly in a goal deficit situation, or slowing the play effectively in a situation where we carry the lead.”
Smith enjoyed her tour of the TRU campus earlier this spring. “The campus is amazing. I can’t wait to come here.”
“I love helping people,’ was the answer when she was asked why she wanted to become a nurse. “ Health has always been interesting for me. I would most like to be either a pediatric or a psychiatric nurse.”
Smith has seen CIS play before and says the style of play will be an adjustment but she is ready for the challenge.
She has volunteered coaching youth soccer in Surrey, BC in the past. “I like to work with young goalkeepers. This year, I started helping four and five year olds every Saturday. It is awesome. The kids are great. I love being a role model.”
Smith believes she is coming into the TRU program at a great time. When she gets to Kamloops in 2016-17, the WolfPack will have an opening among their keepers.
Smith becomes the third recruit for the 2016-17 joining Kamloops products Hannah Marra and Keenen Degen.
McManus says looking to the future is where he wants to take the program. “We have some girls that are ready to commit for 2017 as well, but I have told them to hold off. Lots of things could happen. I think it is the way you have to go to build your team up.”
Until Smith, Marra and Degen are able to play with TRU full time, McManus plans to invite them to train provided they get the proper clearance.
CORNER KICKS: Chadney adds about Smith: “Alyssa will be an impact player for TRU. If the coach can recognize her strength as a sweeper above her goal keeping duties she will do very well. She will represent TRU very well and we are excited to continue to watch her career once she finishes with us in Langley!”.