The University of Northern British Columbia Women’s Soccer team has solidified its backline for years to come, officially announcing the commitment of centre back Mackenna de Haan to the varsity roster.
“I am excited and proud of my achievements, and glad to know my work over the past 14 years has paid off. Playing at the university level has been a dream of mine since I joined the BCSPL when I was 11 years old. It took a lot of hard work. I had to sacrifice extra time with friends and family to work out and do extra training.”
The 17-year-old defender made a trip to UNBC’s Prince George campus for an ID camp in November, where she toured the facilities and visited TWolves coach Neil Sedgwick, who she has known for years.
“I chose UNBC and the Timberwolves because I loved the school when I visited. I enjoy the northern setting and environment, and I felt very comfortable while on campus. I have known Neil since I was 13, and I have always appreciated his advice and the way he coaches.”
de Haan spent her time in Prince George training alongside the current Timberwolves roster at the Northern Sport Centre. What stood out to the Surrey native was the culture and willingness to work by every player in the program.
“I had the opportunity to train with the team a few times. I got to meet all the players, along with Jo (Wankling, UNBC Assistant Coach), and everyone was super friendly and welcoming. What stood out to me most was how close everyone was, and despite the hard work, everyone was still having fun.”
Standing six-feet-tall, de Haan is an imposing presence on the pitch. The TSS FC product plays with an intent and understanding of the game beyond her years. She hopes those attributes allow for a smooth transition to the Canada West style of play when conference action resumes.
“As a player, I have strong vision on the field and I like to make solid outlet passes. I am pretty physical and hard-nosed, so I love to make strong tackles. In my first year, I hope to compete for playing time. I expect the Canada West level to be much more intense and fast-paced than what I am used to. I am also expecting the opposition to be more physical and aggressive on a consistent basis.”
Sedgwick has been aware of his newest recruit’s physical abilities for years. What has impressed the UNBC bench boss is de Haan’s commitment to the fundamentals, and her understanding of plays as they develop on the pitch.
“Mackenna plays at TSS Academy, and we know their game model is similar to ours. This allows Mackenna to come into UNBC with that head start. Her playing ability is sound and, in time, we see Mackenna continuing her growth and making an impact here. She is a central defender who is a good passer of the ball, so she will fit in well. I am excited about her commitment.”
A 2020 graduate of Burnsview Secondary School, she intends to pursue nursing and psychology at UNBC. Due to COVID-19, the 2020-2021 Canada West schedule has been cancelled, but she is committed to training and preparing for when she can don her UNBC kit and play the game she loves.
“I love soccer because I have been around it from a very young age. I like that it provides an outlet from the stresses of everyday life. I like the companionship of being on a team and creating lifelong friendships.”