Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω
If success has made Alanna Bekkering complacent, you wouldn’t know it from talking with her.
Bekkering, one of the most decorated athletes in recent WolfPack history, will play her final year of soccer for TRU this upcoming season. She’s coming off a season in which she was named MVP of the playoffs for the second consecutive year, received all-Canadian honours from the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association and again scored the game-winning goal in the Pacific Western Athletics Association championship final.
Still, even with all the accolades and accomplishments, Bekkering gets nervous before the start of the season.
“I’m extremely nervous, just because I want it [the season] to go out with a bang and be a good final year for myself,” Bekkering said. “I need to not focus on it being my last year and I just need to play the way I play, focus and have fun.”
Bekkering again spent her summer playing for the Kamloops Heat of the Pacific Coast Soccer League’s (PCSL) premier division. In 16 regular season and two playoff games she had six goals – four regular season and two playoff. The Heat exceeded expectations, advancing to the championship final before losing to Vancouver Whitecaps FC 7-2.
Heading into her final year with TRU, Bekkering will use her years of experience in the PCSL and Pacific Western Athletics Association to lead the WolfPack as one of the team’s three captains. She will be joined by fourth-years Laura Smylie and Bronwyn Crawford.
For Bekkering, it was the one personal accomplishment she had yet to secure, and she said it’s especially significant since she will share the title with her best friend, Crawford.
“That was one of the things that was on my bucket-list,” she said, of her captaincy. “I’m really excited that people see me as that much of a leader on the field.”
Bekkering’s leadership was on full display in TRU’s preseason games Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves. She forced a corner-kick late in the 1-1 draw on the Saturday, using it to set up Crawford for the game’s tying goal. On the Sunday she scored the team’s second goal, the eventual game-winner, en route to a 3-1 victory.
It’s that sort of leadership on the field that her coach said made her a natural fit for a captaincy.
“She’s inspirational to the players at practice and in games … players look to her and see what they need to do,” said Tom McManus, head coach of the WolfPack. “It’s a really good fit.”
Heading into this, the WolfPack’s final season in the Pacific Western Athletics Association, it’s looking to exit on a high. Both Bekkering and McManus have their eyes set on another championship and a better outcome at this year’s nationals, in Richmond.
“To be really honest I think we’re going to have a stronger team this year than what we did last year,” McManus said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to ‘three-peat’ but at the same time we also know every team in the league is hunting for us now and out to get us.
“We just have to do the right thing at the right time and we have the opportunity to ‘three-peat’ and to leave the college association … being the three-time champions, which would be lovely.”
Bekkering said she’s somewhat disappointed she won’t be able to play another CIS season – she played with the CIS’s University of Victoria Vikes in her first year of eligibility – but for the most part she’s happy with how her career has unfolded. Sitting out for a year in order to be a part of next year’s Canada West squad was never a consideration.
“All the girls that I’m with now, I’m so close with,” she said. “I would want to be able to help them out with the PACWEST championship and go out with a bang with them, because they’re the ones who pretty much got me my accomplishments last year.”
So with the final year of her university career set to kickoff this Saturday, Bekkering hasn’t gotten complacent. If anything, her personal goals are as ambitious as ever. She’s got her sights set on becoming a two-time all-Canadian – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in Kamloops women’s soccer since Kelley MacDonald did it in 1999-2000 and 2001-02. Back then, TRU was still known as the University College of the Cariboo.
There’s a good chance that at the end of this year MacDonald will have a little more company.