Kendra Parent of Williams Lake is enjoying her first season with the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Football Club. (Photo submitted)

Kendra Parent of Williams Lake is enjoying her first season with the Vernon-based Thompson Okanagan Football Club. (Photo submitted)

Lakecity youth soccer player testing waters in BC Soccer Premier League

Spring season begins on March 1, following training up until that point

A player who honed her talents within the Williams Lake Youth Soccer Association is testing her skills as part of the BC Soccer Premier League.

Goalkeeper Kendra Parent, 16, who played her 2019/20 season with Williams Lake FC, moved to Kelowna in September to begin training with the B.C. Interior’s Thompson Okanagan Football Club (TOFC).

The Vernon, B.C.-based team houses players billeted in the Thompson-Okanagan region representing Kamloops, Kelowna and Vernon to compete in the eight-team league, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no games or travel are currently taking place. TOFC also has teams for players ranging in age from 13 to 18.

While working with the team, Parent has been attending school at Kelowna secondary in her Grade 11 year.

Asked about her decision to make the move, Parent said while she has also focused on rep hockey during past winters, soccer has always been her No. 1 sport.

When she had the opportunity to practice with the team last year to see if she liked it, Parent had the chance to work with the team’s goalie coach, Kai Tolpinrud, she immediately made the decision to attend tryouts to see if she could make the team.

“I realized even more I enjoyed the level of competition and the energy of playing there,” she said.

After tryouts wrapped up in July, the season began in August with practices.

Due to the pandemic, practices were held socially distanced. Later, TOFC was allowed to play against in-house teams, including last year’s league champions, the TOFC U18 squad.

TOFC also works with the Vancouver Whitecaps and is the primary pathway for higher-level players.

Parent said while it’s been different living away from her family and friends, she’s met a lot of new people, new teachers and great coaches.

Prior to the Christmas break, the team wrapped up its fall season. Spring season begins on March 1, following training up until that point.

“I’m just excited for that — to get back to playing soccer, and hopefully COVID goes away and we can start playing league games,” she said.

“I’m excited for what the future can hold, and I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Parent credited her past years playing with the WLYSA, peers and coaches Nara Riplinger and Grant Gustafson for giving her the skills to be able to compete at the BCSPL level.

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