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Wolfpack bolster roster with signing of Nelson's Julia Burkart

Julia Burkart . . . Wolfpack first choice to play university women's soccer. — Submitted photo

The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack soccer program has had a fair bit of success recruiting out of the Kootenays in recent years.  One of the ‘Packs top players on the men’s team is Mitchell Popadynetz out of Nelson, BC.

Now the women’s program is hoping they have found another talented player out of Nelson with the announcement that they have signed 5’5” Julia Burkart.

Burkart will graduate this spring from L.V. Rogers Secondary School and is a centre back.

“I was in Kamloops for a soccer tournament last year and was really impressed by the TRU sports facilities,” said Burkart, who also plays holding midfield.  

“I wanted to go to a university in BC and the size of Thompson Rivers appealed to me, as did their Natural Resource Science program.  The WolfPack was my first choice for university soccer and I am excited it worked out.”

She goes onto say, “I knew that I wanted a career where I could combine my passion for the outdoors, my interest in science and my love for animals.  For those reasons, I chose the Natural Resource Science program at TRU. I was attracted to the soccer program as I’d heard great things about it. I met Coach Kelly Shantz and really liked his approach.  The sports facilities are amazing and I like the sense of community that you find in a ‘smallish’ school.”

Burkart has only seen Canada West matches on video but knows it will be a step up from what she is used to. “The quality of a player on a university team is consistently high. With hard work, I know I will be able to contribute positively to the WolfPack and am up for the challenge.”

Her high school coach for the last two years and with the Nelson Selects has been Chuck Bennett. “ I have watched her grow into a dedicated and tenacious player who leads her team by example. Her strengths are her athleticism, fitness, work ethic and dedication.”

Burkart has helped Bennett’s team (and one coached by Burkhart’s father) to appearances at four provincial tournaments and four medals (two gold, a silver and a bronze).  

“She was a core player even as one of the youngest on the team when she first started,” Bennett stated. “She will rise to any challenge in front of her.  Her biggest challenge will be adjusting to how fast the game will be, but she is a smart young athlete and I have no doubt she will find herself on the pitch in those critical situations. She is a quiet leader and I have loved coaching her.”

Burkart also attended the Whitecaps Kootenay Academy where she has worked the last five years under Brett Adams.

“Julia was very athletic but extremely raw technically when she first started. The Whitecaps program has offered guidance and technical direction and she is now very efficient with the ball and smart in possession. In the five years I have coached in Canadas, Julia is as committed as I have seen and worked with. She is very good in 1 v 1 defensive situations and players find it very hard to go past her when she is defending.”

Adams says the WolfPack have got a good player in Burkart.

“Julia is one of those players that raises her game the better level she plays at.  She will have to get a grip on the pace and aggression of the level of the Canada West game but I have no doubt that she will be a quick learner. She’s an amazing person on and off the field and it’s been a pleasure to coach her. The work that she has put in justified upon accepting a challenge with TRU.”

Says coach Shantz about his third committed recruit for the 2018-19 season, “We are excited to add Julia to our program. Julia is a super quick defender who I think can play other places as well, so I look forward to seeing more of what she can do in different settings come training camp. Most impressive to me has been watching her play well, with enthusiasm and fitness, for her various teams. She pretty much never leaves the field for LV Rogers, Nelson Selects or the Kootenay Whitecap Academy team when they play and always has energy, awareness and game commitment, no matter the weather or fatigue. Julia has a ready smile, engaging personality and enthusiasm for the game and life that will add to the awesome team culture we have going off the field too.”

Other announced recruits are Kamloops natives Ainsley Grether (NorKam Secondary) and Avery Gilbert (Sa-hali Secondary).  Other announcements of recruits will be forthcoming.

The WolfPack begin their 2018 Canada West training camp in August.