Wyatt Thrilled With Opportunity to Try Out for Team Canada
March 11, 2013
CHICAGO - The official e-mail had quite an emotional impact on DePaul women's soccer player Elise Wyatt.
It was the first day of March and Wyatt had just finished practice. The correspondence came from the Canadian Women's National Team Excel Program inviting the Blue Demon freshman from British Columbia to the U-20 National Team Camp March 16-25 in Portland Ore.
"The e-mail came at 1 p.m.," Wyatt said. "When I read it, my eyes started to tear up. This is something I've always wanted, and now it was actually happening. I've always dreamed of representing my country, and it was a really powerful moment for me.
"When I was 15 years old, I wrote `Team Canada' on my bed. My mom got a little mad, but that was my dream."
Turning fantasy into reality did not come easy for Wyatt.
Youth soccer players from her home of Victoria Island were more of an afterthought in comparison to the players on the mainland. Island girls seemed to have a tougher time building a soccer resume.
When Wyatt made the island team, she began by riding the bench. Eventually she earned a starting position. Next came tryouts for the provincial team. Wyatt never made it past the second cut.
In her final year of eligibility, Wyatt was chosen for the provincial team. And she started at a familiar spot, once again stuck on the bench.
"Until that final year, I never made it very far trying out for the provincial team," Wyatt said. "I never realized my potential, and the drive wasn't there. I didn't think I could do it.
"There was a coach on the Victoria team named Stephen Fletcher who really pushed me when I was 16. He never let me give up, and after a year of hard work, I made the provincial team.
"Even though I was on the bench, I worked my way up to a starting position. At each level, I had to make a name for myself. Growing up and being from Victoria Island, we were always the underdog. Everyone underestimated players from the island."
Wyatt played so well in a game against the renowned Vancouver Whitecaps that she was immediately invited to join the residency program. From that, she was identified as being among the better youth players in the country.
"Again, I had to prove myself to get invited to that program," Wyatt said in recalling that telltale match. "It's been a long and emotional journey, always starting out on the bottom and having to work your way up. I've had to prove myself at every step along the way."
Her next proving ground is the U-20 national team camp as her country begins building towards the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014.
"This is an important camp as it represents the beginning of a new cycle for the U-20 group of players," said Canada Women's U-20 Team coach Andrew Olivieri, who will also head the upcoming Women's National Excel camp. "Our on-field work towards the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Canada 2014 starts right here."
And Wyatt is ready to go.
"The U-20 national camp will be an opportunity for 23 players to prove themselves," said Wyatt who led the Blue Demons with five goals and 11 points last fall. "Everyone is going to start out equally. Nobody has been to a U-20 camp before. To get invited, you had to perform well in college and in the last two years with your club soccer team."
DePaul women's soccer coach Erin Chastain was happy for her freshman forward.
"We are extremely excited that Elise has been invited into camp with the U-20 Canadian Team as it gears up for the 2014 World Cup," Chastain said. "Elise deserves the opportunity and will do extremely well at that level.
"I believe last fall was only a glimpse of the kind of impact Elise will have on our program over the course of her next three years, and I am excited she will also get to pursue her goals of competing internationally."
She will also be enhancing a family tradition. Her father, Mark Wyatt, played on the Canadian national rugby team and her mother, Karen Rainey, competed for Canada in track and field.
"Being invited to the U-20 national team camp will put more pressure on me when I play for DePaul next season," Wyatt said. "Being recognized as one of the best players in your country means you have to live up to that honor. You have to play your best at every game."