Oh, Canada! Alberta native plays for SPU

Despite living in another country and recovering from a broken ankle, sophomore forward Heather Young has persevered. The Lacombe, Alberta native has found herself the game-winning goal scorer after Saturday night’s battle against Western Washington.

“It was great to score against them,” Young said, “as we needed that win to secure ourselves for the upcoming tournament.”

The weekend’s goal was Young’s fifth of the year; she is now ranked as SPU’s third most prolific scorer of the season. The Falcons had to face two northern opponents this past week, both WWU and Simon Fraser of Burnaby, British Columbia. Young led her team to a 1-0 win against WWU and had an assist in the 4-0 win over Simon Fraser.

Young has a long history with the sport. She started playing at just four years old.

“My dad took me out on the field because I was too scared to play by myself,” Young said. “He ran me down the field, and I got the ball and scored, and from that point, on I was hooked.”

However, Young wasn’t always sure she was going to play collegiate soccer. It wasn’t until she visited the U.S. for a tournament and was seen by SPU that she thought about playing at a higher level.

“I am the first Canadian the soccer team has had,” Young said, “and it took a lot more paper work than I had thought to be able to play here.”

Young explained that the soccer scene is popular in Canada. Hockey, it would appear, isn’t the only sport up north, as so many Americans may think.

“Everything I have learned has come from my first few coaches in Canada,” Young said, “and it’s what I learned there that has given me the opportunity to come here to the States.”

Being in the U.S. hasn’t been an easy road for Young. Back in October of last year, she broke her ankle in the game against Northwest Nazarene.

“When I broke my ankle, I was unsure of how I would recover,” Young said. “I had never had an injury that bad before. Sometimes, I thought it would be easier to quit than to try and come back.”

Young saw many doctors and was repeatedly encouraged to keep fighting for a chance to play again.

“When I got cleared to play again it was hard because my touches were off, and I couldn’t shoot as hard or as far,” Young said. “I had to [strengthen] my muscles and get back into shape. One hard thing was letting go of the fear of tackling.”

The joy of regaining her talent to play has made Young grateful.

“When I came back it was amazing, and I loved being able to run again and play. I [will never] take for granted my two feet, and the ability to walk, ever again,” Young said.

When Young made the move from Alberta to Washington she decided to apply herself to the exercise science program, which she hopes will help her become a future fitness trainer.

Young’s game-winning goal against WWU has made it possible for SPU to come into the GNAC semifinals in a strong second place. Head coach Chuck Sekyra is pleased with Young’s performance at the last two games.

“She just scored one of the most impressive and important goals of the season,” Sekyra said. “Heather is one of the smartest players that I have ever [coached]; her runs off the ball, her ability to see areas that she can get into to be dangerous are impressive. She is athletic, skilled and a tremendous finisher.”

The Falcons are set to face off against Montana State Billings at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. As of now, the Falcons are seated with an overall record of 14-2-2 and a GNAC score of 11-2-2.

Young’s recovery has garnered nothing but success for the Falcons this year. Each athlete is looking forward to this week’s GNAC tourney.

“We got so pumped after that goal, and I just couldn’t be more grateful that I finished the opportunity that my team gave me,” Young said. “Without them, I never would have got the ball and scored.”

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Title: Oh, Canada! Alberta native plays for SPU | Author: MALIEA LUQUIN | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2012-10-31 | Internal ID: 8385