By Ian Jacques
From the age of four, Cailin Perry knew she would be a soccer player.
The 13-year-old midfielder from Gibsons has played soccer for as long as she can remember, and her hard work and dedication to the sport is starting to pay off in a big way.
Last winter, Cailin was a member of the Sunshine Coast U13 rep United and played an integral role in the success of that team. During the season, she attended three prospect camps with the Vancouver Whitecaps Mountain FC youth team in the Super Y League. That set the stage for a final tryout with the team at the end of the rep season. She made that squad and played her first summer season in the Super Y League.
“It was a really good experience,” she said, “with top-notch coaching, and the Whitecaps are so professional. They treat you so well.”
Much like the pro teams, the youth teams are treated the same way — right down to player introductions before the game and the singing of the national anthem.
“You also have a regimented diet — mayonnaise on your sandwich is a no no,” she recalled with a laugh.
About midway through the Y-League season, Cailin was named a team captain — an honour she relished.
“I welcomed the role and the chance to step up,” she said. “I was asked to take charge of the warm-ups and the cool downs. It was a lot of fun. It’s a role I’m familiar with because I’m used to being a leader on the teams that I played with on the Sunshine Coast. It doesn’t faze me.”
The Y-League team finished in fourth spot, and Cailin added a goal and two assists in 12 games with the team.
While playing with the Whitecaps, Cailin also tried out for the North Shore Metro League Sounders and made that squad. She will play with the Sounders this coming soccer season in September.
“The Sunshine Coast has been great. I’ve been coached by my parents since I was six, but it’s time to move on to a higher level,” she said.
Her parents agreed that it’s good to get new coaches, new challenges and new opportunities.
“We just want the best opportunity for her to excel,” said mother Jackie said. “You have to get yourself out there to get noticed by other coaches, and that’s what we’re hoping with Cailin.”
Cailin played her first tournament last weekend with the Sounders in Penticton and had another tournament with them on the Labour Day long weekend before starting the season.
And the soccer success doesn’t end with these two teams. Cailin’s Whitecaps coach has recommended her for a tryout with the provincial team.
“It’s just a recommendation, but still, it’s pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to play for the provincial team,” Cailin said.
And her ultimate goal is a scholarship to an NCAA school in California.
“The summer has been a fantastic experience,” she said. “Sure, I’ve missed some time with my friends at the beach, but I’d rather be playing soccer.”