Melanie Booth

'Caps for Canada: Melanie Booth

Later this month, BC Place will be host to the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. For many players on the team, this won’t be the first time playing in front of fans in Vancouver, as the squad includes 14 former members of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Over the next two weeks, will be profiling each of these players as we get set to support our fantastic Canadian women!

In recent months, sports fans have been in awe of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. It’s hard not to be impressed by his integrity, positive attitude, contributions to the community and no-nonsense approach off the field, and his determination and dedication on it – especially in today’s sports world.

Tebow, however, isn’t the only University of Florida alumnus to possess these humble qualities.

For the past decade, Melanie Booth has quietly been among the most consistent performers on the Canadian women’s national team. You’re excused if you haven’t noticed; Booth tends not to make a big deal of things, that’s just not her style.

Take 2007, for example, when Booth – an All-American defender – returned to her University of Florida Gators squad after missing the first part of the season to play with Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. As she entered the team bus and saw her teammates for the first time since the World Cup, the whole team began chanting her name.

“I didn’t want to walk on the bus,” Booth told the Gainesville Sun. “I get embarrassed by things like [that].”

“She was just like, ‘Come on guys, I’m not that big a deal’,” added former teammate KeLeigh Hudson. “But it was for us.”

Booth met Tebow during her collegiate days at Florida. She says that his nice-guy image is no ploy, what you see is what you get. That genuine spirit has helped Tebow bring the best out of his teammates.

The same can be said for Booth.

“[It’s] not only the fact that she’s an amazing player, but it’s her attitude,” said former Gators teammate Daniela Sanchez. “The atmosphere just feels a lot better with her [around].”

Her attitude has helped bring great success to the teams that she’s played on. In 2002, she played every minute for the Canadian team that made the final of the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship here in Canada. And in 2010, she was a key contributor to the Whitecaps FC squad that made the W-League championship game, scoring a goal in the semi-finals.

So as you watch Canada take the field in quest for an Olympic berth, it should not be hard to cheer for Melanie Booth.

Just try not to embarrass her too much.

For more details on how to purchase tickets, please visit the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament information page.