Soccer star stays local - Langley Times

By Andrew Bucholtz Striker Nikki Wright has seen soccer take her all over during her time with the Vancouver Whitecaps organization, but she’ll be returning to Langley to continue her career this fall. Wright, who lives in Cloverdale but spent the last five years with Langley FC, graduated from Langley Secondary this year after leading the Saints to a Fraser Valley championship last fall. She will be attending Trinity Western University this fall. Wright has been playing with the Vancouver Whitecaps’ various youth teams for several years as well, and said that experience has been great for her development. “It’s gone really well,” she said. Wright just returned from playing for the Whitecaps U-18 team at the Surf Cup in San Diego last weekend. In June, she got called up to the full women’s team for a road trip to California. Wright said she was thrilled to get to play with the likes of Tiffeny Milbrett and Amy Vermeulen. “It was a really great experience,” she said. “They always had me under their wing. It was great to step up and play at their level.” Wright said she was a multi-sport athlete growing up, competing in ice hockey, ball hockey, Tae Kwon Do and lacrosse among other sports. “I’ve played tons of sports,” she said. “I’m a hockey person: I actually quit soccer for a year in 2001 to focus on hockey.” Wright said she’s only been involved in high-level soccer for the past few years. “I was a little bit of a late bloomer,” she said. “I was never in provincial programs or anything like that.” Wright said she enjoyed playing school soccer for LSS, as many of her teammates also were in the Whitecaps’ academy program. She said that previous experience playing together was a key factor in their team’s success. “We gelled well, and it just kind of grew from there,” she said. Despite her star-studded roster of teammates, Wright still managed to shine, earning BC Secondary School Soccer Provincial MVP honours. Wright said she wasn’t expecting the award. “It was actually pretty surprising,” she said. “I was almost speechless.” Wright said she loved her time with Langley FC as well. She played with the club for five years. “It was fantastic,” she said. “The level of play was always high.” Wright said her coach with Langley FC, Shaun Mason, is a key reason why she’s gone so far with soccer. “Shaun Mason’s a great coach and a great guy,” she said. “He was the one actively pushing me to try out for the Whitecaps.” Wright, who committed to playing for TWU back in November, said she chose the school early on because of the quality of education it provides. “Education is pretty much number one for me,” she said. “I had looked at other schools in the States and Canada and Trinity just felt like the place for me.” Wright said the school’s location also helped. “I’m kind of a homegirl,” she said. Wright is only one of the Spartans’ 12 new women’s soccer recruits, but she said the size of the rookie class doesn’t intimidate her and may be a blessing in disguise, as it might make it easier for the new players to fit in. Wright said she already knows many of the new recruits through school soccer, Langley FC or connections to the Whitecaps. Other new recruits from Langley include striker Daniela Gerig and goalkeeper Leah Schmelter. Wright said she wants to take soccer as far as she can, but she’s in it for the thrill of the game. “I’d love to just play,” she said. “To get on a team in England would be great. It’s every girl’s dream to play for Canada, but right now I’m focused on Trinity.” Wright said she’s excited to get the chance to play at the CIS level, which she described as “really good.” Several of the women on the Whitecaps senior team have played at CIS schools, including current TWU players Melissa Mobilio and Lindsay Rohla. Trinity Western will be hosting the CIS women’s soccer championship this fall, giving the Spartans an automatic berth, but Wright said the team has put that out of their mind to focus on winning their way in, as that will help once the championships start. “Once we get there, we have to perform,” she said. “It’s just like any other year. We’re still going to go out strong and try to earn our spot.” Wright said she’s given up on other sports for the time being, and shifted all her attention to soccer. “Pretty much my life is soccer now.”