15-year-old midfielder will be one of the younger players to take the field for the Whitecaps’ in NCAA Final Four Showcase.
By Lev Jackson
Whitecaps FC’s Rachel Jones is one of the younger players on the squad. Jones, 15, a grade 10 student at Sutherland Secondary in North Vancouver will be on the Vancouver Whitecaps’ grade 10 and 11 girls’ team participating in this coming weeks NCAA Final Four Showcase in San Diego.
Due to her age, Jones was not expected to crack the roster this season.
“I was really shocked. I’m one of the younger players and didn’t think I was going to make it. When I got the email I was still in shock, like wow, I made it. It’s really big for me playing with some of the U17 national girls who made team Canada. It has been a great experience so far.”
At just 15, Jones was feeling a bit intimidated her first day training with the Whitecaps.
“First day I was really nervous because I really didn’t know many girls, they were all like two years older than me.”
Judging by her positive attitude, the first day jitters didn’t’ last long.
“I love it, I’ve made so many new friends! Were planning a big get together, all the Whitecaps girls for a Christmas party so that’s exciting. For soccer, I’m really fortunate to me a part of it because it’s such great training, fast paced and very technical.”
Jones just recently finished her last game with her former squad HPL Mountain and is now a fulltime member of the Whitecaps’ program.
During her time with HPL Mountain, Jones connected well with coach Chris Cerroni, a man who played a key role in her player development.
“He has a lot of experience and was the U15 boys B.C. coach as well. He was really a great coach for me.”
Another coach to have a big influence on her young career is her current coach, Whitecaps’ Jesse Symons.
“To have Jesse as a coach makes it just so much better,” she said.
Jones was coached under Symons with the Whitecaps prospects in U11 and U12. During her time playing Metro soccer, she also had Symonds as a coach.
“It’s good to have him back as my Whitecaps’ coach, it’s really exciting because he’s such a great coach, he mentally pushes us to be the best player we can be, so it’s really encouraging.”
Despite the Rigorous training schedule, the Whitecaps girls’ still can’t seem to see each other enough. Like all teenage girls, facebook is popular amongst the team.
“We all have facebook groups, we stay in touch and we see each other a lot because we train together three to four days a week and usually a game or two.”
Though they are going to the Final Four Showcase to compete, team bonding is still on everybody’s mind.
“I like being around the girls because I feel like were a big family now. Going down to San Diego is going to be so much fun.”
It won’t be all fun and games for the Whitecaps FC girls; Jones explains the San Diego trip is still very much a business trip.
“I really want our team to play well, for everyone to play to their best abilities; it is a showcase. I’m hoping we do well against these teams because we haven’t really played any high level teams from the states yet. Were coming in with a great mental strength to do well with these teams.”