Scorpions' tale begins new chapter - The Province

Howard Tsumura

Pac-10 beckons for Sands Secondary golfer and soccer player

One has spent her senior year of high school balancing classroom work with the demanding, near-nightly responsibilities of playing soccer within the Vancouver Whitecaps elite program.

The other has maintained honour roll status in the classroom while playing golf at such a level that he's competed in seven Junior World Championships.

In the hallways of North Delta's Sands Secondary, ace striker Chelsea Buckland and golfing whiz Jonnie Motomochi do a great job of blending in with the rest of the Scorpions' senior student body.

Yet as each copes with the stressful stretch drive of final exams, their dedication to both books and balls has defined them as two of the best high school student-athletes in B.C.'s Class of 2008.

Each had long ago identified the goal of achieving an athletic scholarship and they will coincidentally begin their college careers in the fall at the same school, playing for the Beavers at the Pacific 10 Conference's Oregon State University.

"The academic part has been really stressful in terms of getting homework done and then having to go and play on the park for hours," said Buckland, a creative force in the attacking third who has spent the last school year training in the Whitecaps' residency program.

"But I am proud of myself for finding the extra motivation to go out and get the marks I need."

Motomochi, a prodigy of sorts who at age 12 became the youngest-ever qualifier at the Canadian Amateur, agreed the last few weeks of high school can be a killer.

When a recent tournament in Victoria kept him out of the classroom for three straight days, the catchup was tougher than battling out of a sand trap.

"There was this huge English project a week ago, where we had to analyze and discuss about 20 poems," laughed Motomochi.

"I was up until about 3:30 in the morning one night finishing it. But getting this scholarship has been a dream of mine since I was five."

And what a talented pair they are.

When Oregon State signed Buckland in December, head coach Steve Fennah said: "We look for her to compete with returning players for playing time right away."

And Beavers golf coach Brian Watts had similar praise for Motomochi, stating he had "the best bunker play I have ever seen from a junior golfer."

It was like collective music to their ears.

"I hope that as a freshman and an international student, I can bring a different aspect of the game," said Buckland, who first started playing on an all-boys team in Whalley. "That's being Canadian and playing a different style of soccer."

Motomochi, who impressed enough to play three holes at Mayfair Lakes with the legendary Greg Norman in 2003, has more dreams he wants to fulfil.

"The end goal is obviously the PGA," he said.

"If you're playing Div. 1 golf in the Pac 10, you want to be there. You want to be in the show."

For both, the first chapter ends this month. Dedication gives them a chance to start the next one in the fall.

© The Vancouver Province 2008