Olympic Bronze Medalist, Erin McLeod to host goal keeping clinics in October for Calgary minor soccer players
By April Cruz
The Olympics may seem like a while ago now, but for Calgary minor soccer players and fans the memory of the Canadian National Women’s team winning bronze is still very fresh.
Especially for the Willow Ridge Carburn (WRC) soccer club. The Olympian goal keeper, Erin McLeod, will be coming home to spend some time with Calgary minor soccer players lucky enough to get in to her clinics.
The Willow Ridge community club was where McLeod played for eight years of her Calgary minor soccer career. In a letter addressed to the club, she shared her connection to WRC for helping her become the player she is today.
The first team at WRC she played on at a young age was called the ‘Pink Panthers’. Just to mention a few of her many successes, following her Calgary minor soccer years, McLeod went on to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Canadian National team, and Washington Freedom. She has competed at the 2007 World Cup, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2012 London Olympics. Currently, she is the goal keeper for the premier level team in Boras, Sweden and can happily place ‘Olympian’ in front of her position from now on.
“Without Willow Ridge, I never would have had any of those opportunities. That’s the whole point of community soccer, bringing people together, friends, family, and exposing young talent to the world. My dad was my coach for years, some of my closest friends on those Willow Ridge teams are still my friends today,” she wrote.
“I can’t emphasize enough what community soccer, especially Willow Ridge, brings to the lives of all those involved. Because of soccer, I have traveled the world and followed my dreams, but none of this could have been possible without my starting point at Willow Ridge.”
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The WRC’s manager, Francine Morrison, is looking forward to coordinating the visit and clinics. Her family and the McLeod’s go way back.
“We go back about 20 years. My daughters and the McLeod girls went to the same French immersion school. We met at the bus stop one day,” shared Morrison. “The following spring, we all signed up for community soccer.”
Morrison recalls the unique drive and focus that young Erin had at 12 years old.
“It was early that she set her sights on playing for the National team,” she said. “Erin said back then that she wanted to play soccer for a living. Soccer came first for her. We used to joke that she bleeds soccer.”
While other girls her age were heading to sleepovers and social gatherings, 12-year old Erin would be training.
“I remember this tournament in Kelowna we all went to. Some of us went to get coffee at six in the morning,” recalls Morrison. “Erin had already been up and was in the hotel parking lot doing wind sprints.”
Morrison isn’t surprised at McLeod’s success.
“She comes from an active family. Erin was so focused and determined,” she said. “There’s a lot of sacrifices that you make as an individual to become an Olympian, and that’s at 12 and 13 years old.”
In the letter to WRC, McLeod views her sacrifices as blessings.
“Not only did soccer provide me an opportunity to excel, it enabled me to compete and exercise daily. As a woman, sport alone has taught me about strength, self-confidence, about competing, teamwork, and much more,” McLeod wrote.
“Young girls and body image is a huge problem today and sport teaches healthy eating and the importance of working out.”
What sets someone apart on the road to the highest level they can play soccer at?
“I think there are three major factors to success, hard work, a certain amount of talent, and opportunity, but without a chance the first two don’t matter,” states McLeod.
The goal keeping clinics with Erin McLeod will be open to all Calgary Minor Soccer Association players. There will be priority however for WRC Soccer and their partners, McKenzie United and Southwest United.
The Willow Ridge Community Association is also working on securing a ‘Meet ‘n Greet with Erin’ the evening of October 13th.
The chance to register and be a part of the clinics will open in early September.
For more details, visit the WRC website.
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