Chelsea Harkins, a member Whitecaps team heading to the NCAA showcase tournament, has Team Canada hopes and plans of being a schoolteacher.
By Lev Jackson
Whitecaps’ midfielder Chelsea Harkins will be going into next weeks NCAA Showcase Tournament in San Diego with the same business like approach she has used her entire soccer career.
The grade-11 student is the daughter of soccer players Terry Harkins and Tammi Vincent, so soccer was the natural choice for her.
“I grew up at the soccer field, I have an older sister that played, both my mom and dad played as well. So it was kind of just a natural walk into.”
Before the invite to the Whitecaps’ program, Harkins, 16, had played with the provincial program in U14, U15 and U16.
Whether or not she got drafted to the Whitecaps, Harkins had a calculated plan.
“I got an email from Whitecaps. The weeks leading up to the email, the provincial program was over and I was just waiting. Either I was going to be selected into the program or I was going to continue to play BCPL and see where I would go from there,” she recalls. “I was super nervous and I got the email, I was ecstatic, super excited. Obviously I was a bit intimidated going into the program with all the senior players. Some of them have played for the women’s national team, it’s an honor to play and compete with them. It’s great to be able to play with the top players in B.C.”
Since starting with the Whitecaps, Harkins has been on her own version of the surreal life.
“It’s been hard to explain, almost surreal. I’ve worked so hard to get here, to be here competing with the top players and be a role model for young female players, to be where I am now is huge.”
In a very short time with the Whitecaps this season Harkins has made great strides, something she credits to Whitecaps’ coach Jesse Symons.
“Jesse is a great coach, so being able to be coached under his eye and guidance has helped me a lot.”
While soccer is her passion, Harkins is realistic in her expectations of the sport.
“Being a female athlete, you’re not going to be able to make a living playing sports. I think it’s really important to be able to get something out of it [soccer].”
What Harkins hopes to get out of soccer is an education and the opportunity to become a schoolteacher, something her own teachers inspired her to do.
“I was going through a rough time; my teachers were there for me. So I feel like I’d like to be there for other people like me, who have gone through something. If I can impact people, maybe even help them figure out who they are or who they want to be, that would be an honor.”
Before she one day finds her way into the classroom, Harkins still hopes to wear team Canada colours.
“One day I would like to represent my country. To wear our Canadian jersey on the women’s national team,” she said. “I don’t want to lose my passion and my drive.”
Harkins will look to take it one step at a time, the next step being the San Diego Showcase tournament. The plan is for her and her teammates to give the NCAA coaches something to talk about.
“Being a showcase tournament, you’re always thinking about who is there watching but at the end of the day, you’re there to play soccer. Were going to be there to play, so I will not only try to make myself look good but also try my best to make my teammates look good as well.”