DESIREE SCOTT is an Olympic bronze medallist and a former University of Manitoba soccer player, but on Friday she was an ambassador ushering in a new era of her sport at the University of Winnipeg.
Scott, who won bronze with Canada's women's soccer team at the 2012 London Olympics, brought along her bronze medal and inspiring story to the official announcement of the U of W Wesmen women's and men's soccer teams' debut at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level.
The U of W teams have joined the CIS after having played the past two seasons in the Manitoba Collegiate Athletic Conference, where they won titles both years.
The Wesmen teams will both officially open their seasons on Sept. 7 at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex at Wilkes Avenue and Waverley Street. The women meet the U of M at 6 p.m. while the men host the Saskatchewan Huskies at 8 p.m.
At a press conference, Scott welcomed the Wesmen women's and men's teams to the CIS.
"I was a CIS athlete like you guys so this pretty exciting," said Scott, a former player Bison who played five CIS seasons and is an assistant coach with the team. "Staying here was the best choice of my life. I played in the CIS and that's how I got scouted by the national team."
"It (the Bisons and Wesmen having women's soccer) sends a message. Some people think you have to go the States to play. You're visible to the national team staying in Canada. You can play high-calibre soccer in Canada and you can stand out in Canada."
U of W athletic director Doran Reid said adding CIS soccer to the Wesmen family of sports brings the total to eight, with men's and women's basketball, soccer, volleyball and wrestling.
"We very pleased to be joining the CIS and I've always said it's because it's more opportunities for student athletes to play at the highest level here in the province of Manitoba," said Reid. "Men's soccer, all the players that used to leave the province, now they have a place to play here at the University of Winnipeg."
Wesmen women's soccer coach Mick Gale said competing with the west coast teams will be a challenge but he has a plan of action.
"I've stuck to the European format. I won't go for a big squad. I've seen some universities with 20-25 players. I've got 18 players, so you can keep the players fit and on the ball," said Gale. "They (Wesmen) are going to be the youngest team in the CIS but in terms of the future for the University of Winnipeg, it's really brilliant."
The men's coach is Pedro Daza.
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