She’s more than just lucky number 7 in Calgary minor soccer
By April Cruz
During the last Alberta Summer Games in Lethbridge a few weeks ago, a lot of goals were scored during the under 13 girls soccer games, particularly by one player, Nicole Wakulich.
This 11 year old, WRC Thunder striker who proudly wears # 7 on her jersey, has a lot more that just a lucky number. She has serious soccer talent.
Just a quick recap of the goals Nicole scored for the U13 Girls Calgary minor soccer team at the Summer Games.
Friday, July 27, Calgary wins 2 – 1; she scored both goals
Same day, game two, Calgary wins 8 – 0; three goals scored by Nicole
Saturday, July 28, Calgary wins 7 – 0; Nicole came out in the first 20 minutes and knocked three in
Sunday, July 29, the girls head to the gold medal round; they walk away with silver after a 5 – 2 lose. Nicole assisted both points.
That’s just one tournament.
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According to Nicole, scoring is a regular occurrence that “comes naturally”.
It helps that she’s been playing since she was three years old and her family is very supportive.
She credits her Dad, John Wakulich, who is also Thunder’s assistant coach, for her level of skills and ability to finish.
“He always motivated me and helped me focus on my shot, getting the right footing and finishing. We’d have extra training time together,” shared Nicole.
As well, her team’s head coach, Charlie Hunter has played a role in keeping Nicole focused and confident.
“He always tells me to just do my best before a game,” she said. “He keeps me motivated, he and my Dad.”
The Alberta Summer Games was a tournament that Nicole was apparently craving. The simple reason being, to face tough competition. She anticipated playing games that wouldn’t be easy. As her regular season was coming to an end, she shared that she wasn’t feeling challenged on the pitch.
The scores above illustrate that some games were tougher than others but Nicole definitely made valuable use of her playing minutes.
“The first game was one of the hardest games I’d ever played. I wasn’t expecting that. They were tough,” she said. “The second game, no one marked me. No one paid much attention to me so it was easy to get breakaways and score.”
The third game was a challenge for Nicole but not as tough as the first.
The gold medal game was a bit of a different story.
“We scored right off the bat but they had some lucky goals and we just couldn’t bring it back,” she said. “Then I had a bad foul happen against me, and had a concussion.”
Nicole continued to play for another 20 minutes after the concussion occurred but then had to stop from the diziness. It took about a week to completely recover. After eight years of playing, this was her first concussion.
This wasn’t her first injury however. There was a foot and shoulder injury a few years back and the second to last regular season game, a bad knee injury. Nicole also contends with plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammatory condition that impacts the bottom of the foot, so at times, it’s painful for her to run. Yet she still runs like the wind and can score like crazy.
When asked what she believes her secret is to scoring, she modestly laughed and took a moment to reflect.
“I just shoot every chance I get and I always think positive,” she said. “When I get the ball, I say to myself ‘you can do it, you can do it’ and score. Also, I’m extremely fast. Players get caught by surprise with my speed and I get a lot of breakaways.”
Nicole also shared a little pre-game ritual that she believes brings her luck. Based on a winning game’s preparation, whe will repeat certain patterns. For example, if she put on her left sock first the last game and they won, she will make sure she does the same before going into the next match.
For the gold medal round at the Alberta Summer Games, she made sure that she wore her hair exactly how she did in the game they won 7-0.
In the future, this sure-footed soccer player has her sights set on playing for Canada.
“I’ve always wanted to play on Canada’s national team. Also want to play university soccer. I always just want to play,” she said.
In the meantime, she will be continuing to develop and grow during the upcoming indoor season. Though she’s just turning 12 in the fall, she will be moving up to U14 and looking forward to it. Once again, happily anticipating the challenges.
The meaning of the name ‘Nicole’ means ‘Victory of the People’.
Between her name, great support system, lightening speed and natural ability to score, perhaps she will help bring victory to the people of Canada in the gold medal games at the 2020 Olympics.
For the record, you read it here first.