By Grant Granger
Eden Hingwing has traveled to Mexico, Russia and Omaha as well as all over Canada and the Lower Mainland to kick a soccer ball. Tomorrow afternoon, though, she can walk out her parents door in East Burnaby and wander a few blocks down to New Westminster’s Mercer Stadium to suit up for the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team.
The Whitecaps, with Hingwing on its back line, will face the Colorado Force at 4 p.m.
Although it’s her fourth season with the women Whitecaps, this is the first in which Hingwing, 21, has been getting a good share of playing time, even starting some games. She’s got her confidence back and it shows on the field.
For her, 2008 won’t go down as one to remember. Unfortunately, it will be hard to forget.
She took a season off from the Creighton University Blue Jays women’s team in Omaha, Neb., to prepare to play for Canada at the U20 World Cup in Chile. Hingwing had been on the U20 team since she was in Grade 12 at Burnaby Central, even being the starting centre back at one point.
“When I was 17 years old I had no idea what I was doing,” says Hingwing. “I think I was so raw (last year) I couldn’t handle the stress of it because it’s really demanding. That jaded me a bit, and then after that it was a downward spiral where I lost confidence, I didn’t play well, and then I’d lose more confidence.”
Hingwing says she was focusing too much on the stress of having to impress U20 coach Bob Birada, who also ran the Whitecaps. Hingwing finally quit the national squad, and Birada eventually did as well a month before the team left for Chile.
“Certain players respond to the stress, and I definitely do respond to a stressful environment as long as I believe in myself, and I think I started focusing so much on playing well and getting the result, impressing this coach and making this team that I forgot how much I loved soccer and how good I was,” says Hingwing.
So instead, she played premier league senior women’s soccer.
“I had more fun on that team than I had in the last three years playing soccer. I love a high-calibre of soccer, it was just I was playing and not worrying about what was going to happen, what would be the repercussions if I didn’t have the best touch on the ball,” Hingwing says.
The confidence even grew more as soon as she got off the plane in Omaha. Hingwing is a leader for the Blue Jays, and in Kansas it’s the only team she has to worry about. She had plenty of talks with coach Bruce Erickson, who she also kept in touch with all through 2008.
“He let me make my own decision, which was important to me that he gave me that responsibility, and didn’t force me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with,” says Hingwing.
Now Hingwing is back on the Whitecaps back line playing alongside the likes of Katie Thorlakson and Randee Hermus. Even training is fun for her these days.
“I feel like I’ve come back with a fresh look at things and I’m enjoying going to practice. It’s not work and it’s not stressful for me, I love it and I play better for it,” she says.
In the fall, she’ll be back at Creighton for her third season of eligibility. Eventually, though, she wants to play for Canada again.
“Now that I’m rejuvenated I’m ready for it and I’m a lot more prepared and I know myself a lot better as a player,” says Hingwing. “There’s nothing that made me prouder of myself than wearing my country’s colours.”