Whitecaps star so proud of program

Steve Ewen

The Quest University Kermodes women's soccer team may not have much name recognition yet, but their coach certainly does.

Vancouver Whitecaps star and Canadian national team stalwart Martina Franko is at the helm of the Squamish squad, which played an exhibition schedule in its inaugural campaign this fall and is slated to be part of the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association league next year.

The school welcomed its first students in September 2007.

"It maybe got some people's attention if they hadn't heard of the university," Franko, 32, said of her resume, which includes being part of the Canadian team at the Beijing Olympics.

"It maybe helped get people to visit the school. Once they visited, they fell in love with it. It's so exciting to be a part of the league next year. The girls are so competitive. If we lost a game, they wanted a rematch. Being an exhibition schedule, we had colleges cancel out on us here and there. That really upset the players."

Quest is an ideal fit for Franko. She and husband John have long lived in Squamish and are avid mountain bikers, rock climbers and hikers.

Academically, Quest works on a block plan, which sees students take one course a day in 18-day stints.

It's an unusual set-up, but one of the schools it is similar to is Franko's alma mater, Colorado College.

From Los Altos, Calif., she got dual citizenship in 2005. Franko immediately joined the Canadian national team and has 52 caps.

"Only a handful of universities are on the block plan, but I can relate exactly to how they're feeling," said Franko, part of W-League championship teams with the Whitecaps in 2003 and '05.

"I can relate to their stress at the key times."

The new Women's Pro Soccer league opens up next April and Franko mentioned she might "still even play pro in L.A."

"It will be busy," she said of playing and coaching.

She also sounds keen on representing Canada again. The Canadian Soccer Association is expected to announce a new coach by the end of the month, replacing Even Pellerud, who stepped down after Beijing.

"We're all hoping to get a good coach," Franko said.

© The Vancouver Province 2008