For the Townsman
It was an exciting year for the U18 KEYSA Rovers, who recently returned from the BC Provincial Soccer Championship with a bronze medal.
The Les Sinnott Memorial ‘B’ Cup was held from July 6 to 9 and capped off a phenomenal season for the senior Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association rep team. In all four of their previous regular season tournaments throughout the year — in Kamloops, Nelson, Airdrie and at Cranbrook’s Sam Steele tournament — the team had earned either a silver or gold medal.
Many of the U18 team members have been playing together since 2009, making it a sentimental time for the players, coaches and parents as the U18 boys move on from the youth ranks.
There were also nine U17 players on the team this year, who were each an incredible addition to the group. The two age groups had played together at different times in the past, including two years of high school soccer at Mount Baker Secondary, where they competed at the provincial level under coaches Mike Stambulic and Will Burgess.
The strong relationships formed between the coaches, players and parents really stood out and was acknowledged on and off the field by game officials and other teams at the provincial tourney.
During a typical game, the character of the Rovers was evident. You would see the boys helping opposing teams’ players off the ground, chatting and laughing with opposing team members and picking other teams’ litter off the field. Parents meanwhile were running along the sidelines offering water to players and officials, as they played in 35 plus degree temperatures.
The Rovers’ cheering parents and families could be heard from far away as they rang bells and shouted out their love for the team, which made the players laugh, have fun and score goals. One BC soccer representative commented that this team was by far the best Kootenay team he had ever seen at the tournament.
Coaches Chris Franklin and Pete Campbell stated at the beginning of the season “we believe this team has what it takes to go all the way” and they were proved right.
On this year’s team were U18s: Gabriel Franklin, Dakota Rowan, Daniel Denegri, Drew Dreger, Joel Meuleman, Justin Marsh, Matthew Spears, Seth Amudsen, Tyler Epp, Tyler Peters, Zac Pighin, Zak Campbell and Jake Sebben. The U17s were: Caleb Creber, Alex Jost, Cody Sugihara, Ethan Heavey, Jamie Casselman, Jordan Klassen, Jovon Klassen and Michael Stambulic. The team was coached by Chris Franklin and Pete Campbell, and the manager was Sandy Dreger.