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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hometown embraces Scott

Feels presence of late father as family gets to see her play

Posted: 05/9/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Nick Scott didn't hesitate for breath or dramatic pause when he was asked what his father would think if he were alive to watch his daughter, Desiree, play soccer before more than 28,255 fans.

"Oh, he's here. He's up above a bit on this night. But he's here and he's bursting," said Scott, referring to his deceased father, Hopeton. "She talks to him before every game. He's in her heart and you can see it out there the way she's playing. She can feel all of her people cheering her on. She's loving this."

Desiree Scott has travelled the world, won an Olympic medal and signed a professional contract to play in England. But there's nothing like coming home.

"Unbelievable experience. And to have my family here, incredible. When the whistle blew, I just put my hand in the air and looked up to the section they were in. It's going to be a game I hold close to my heart for a long time," said Scott, who was solid at her midfield spot in a 1-1 tie between the U.S. and her Canadian squad.

Bruce Springsteen at the Meadowlands, Billy Joel at Shea Stadium, the Who at Wembley. This was Scott on the campus of the University of Manitoba, where she made her name as one of Canada's best players.

'Unbelievable experience. And to have my family here, incredible... It's going to be a game I hold close to my heart for a long time'

-- Winnipegger Desiree Scott

"This is a dream come true. I never thought I'd be here in front of friends and family, and we put in a great performance," said Scott.

The hometown crowd paid off their hero with a number of roars, and she gave it back to them strutting about the midfield all night in her standard No. 11 and with a pair of orange kicks that glowed on the turf and up into the top rows of this joint named for a financial-services firm but more aptly labelled Scott Stadium if only for one night.

From the unlined fields of West Kildonan to the FC Northwest program to the University of Manitoba to Team Canada, this 5-2 package of energy, million-dollar smile and stone-cold killer instinct has always played the same way.

"She's always been the smallest. But she's always been the fiercest," said brother Nick.

"She's never changed. She never will. She'll back you if you're her family. But she'll take you on if you challenge her."

Right in the middle of a section overflowing with cousins and brothers, and nieces and nephews, neighbours and old teammates was Scott's mother, Charlene Gusberti.

"This is my family. A couple of sons, some ex-husbands, friends and family," said the mother of Manitoba's favourite soccer girl. "I admit it. I teared up when I saw her run out there. You know, I started dragging her to soccer fields when she was just little.

"And I guess I never knew this day would come. But really I did. I'm so proud of her. But if you saw Desiree when she was little, well, you wouldn't really be surprised either."

Brother Christopher Hawkins sat one row back of his mother and couldn't contain himself.

"This is the first time I've seen her play outside of Garden City. This is amazing. I did my van up for her. Painted 'the Destroyer' on the side," said Hawkins, holding a homemade neon sign in his hands.

"I would have loved to have gone on tour with her and seen her play around the world. I love watching her play. We're a soccer family and our sister is leading the way."

Who's the best player in the family?

"I don't know, I never played her," said Hawkins, before getting cut off by Mom.

Gusberti would hear no talk on this night of someone being better than her daughter.

"Desiree's the best. We all know it," she said.

Yep. Now all of Winnipeg knows it, too.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2014 C2

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