Euan Aitchison didn’t have to look far for advice on what it would be like to take his soccer career and studies well beyond his home province.
The 2021 Vancouver College graduate and Total Soccer Academy product from Tsawwassen has committed to the University of New Brunswick for the coming 2021 season. The Reds are part of U Sport’s Atlantic Conference which means a steady dose of other schools in the Maritimes and getting to know a part of the country Aitchison has never been to before.
He will at least have one familiar teammate as fellow TSS product Chris Schmit will be joining him. Both were part of the 2003-born full-time academy squad that was launched in 2013.
“There were a few schools that I wanted to go to that were somewhat local then I heard New Brunswick had interest in me through (TSS technical director) Colin (Elmes). It was far away and I was down for that. I knew how much fun my sister was having,” said Euan.
His sister is Kathleen Aitchison, a starting midfielder at the University of Nebraska, heading into her junior season this fall.
She would typically be home for the summer and suiting up for the TSS Rovers of the Women’s Premier Soccer League. However, the COVID-19 quarantine traveling rules, that were only recently eased, made staying put at the Lincoln campus the most logical choice.
“I would have only been out of quarantine for a week or two so it really didn’t make any sense to go home,” she said. “It’s been a benefit staying here, especially since we have a really big freshman class coming in. We’ve been able to help them and integrate them into the team. We will be going into the fall season extra prepared because so many of us stayed here.”
COVID wiped out the typical NCAA Division One fall season but the Cornhuskers did play a spring schedule that saw Kathleen start in all 10 games. There is a distinctive B.C. flavor to the team thanks to the program’s connections with TSS. She is joined by Richmond natives Dakota Chan and Natalie Cooke as scholarship recipients.
“It has been absolutely amazing here,” continued Kathleen, who is majoring in psychology as an honour roll student. “There is no pro sports team here and football is the biggest thing around. It benefits all the other sports and elevates them to the point where you feel like you are being treated like a professional athlete. It’s so cool. They take care of you so well.”
As for Euan, he will be making his way to Fredericton in early August and all signs point to the Reds playing a complete fall season. He praises his development at TSS that led to this opportunity.
“We played (B.C. Premier Soccer League) teams all the time and even in the games we didn’t win you could see the difference in the style of play. I don’t think I could have thrived or done anything better somewhere else,” he said.
Kathleen was doing the TSS Academy sessions once a week on top of her club play at the BCPSL level before joining the program full-time in her Grade 10 year, working with Brendan Quarry.
“It was honestly was what made me into the player I am today,” said the Little Flower Academy graduate. “Previously, I was playing on a couple of teams and doing the TSS academy on the weekends. I would see small differences popping up in my game by implementing some of the things I was learning from Brendan. Eventually I realized making the switch would completely change how I played. I really thrived in that environment especially as Brendan as my coach. He really understood the kind of player that I am.”
Other South Delta players in the TSS program headed to schools this fall include: Jonah Quarry (University of British Columbia Okanagan), Lauren Elmes (University of British Columbia Okanagan) and Ciana Dawydiuk-Clozza (University of British Columbia Okanagan).