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Kelowna midfielder Kayla Gareau ready to contribute to Timberwolves in 2024

The University of Northern British Columbia Women’s Soccer team continues to stock the cupboards and build with an eye towards a promising future. Today, Neil Sedgwick’s program added a dose of size, versatility, and skill, announcing the official commitment of Kayla Gareau for the 2024 Canada West season, and beyond.

“I have wanted to play university soccer since I was ten years old, so it means a lot to me. This is not somewhere I expected to be, but I am very glad I chose UNBC and I am excited.”

Gareau’s path to morthern B.C. was an unorthodox one. A 2023 graduate from Okanagan Mission Secondary School, the six-footer committed to play her post-secondary career at Culver-Stockton College in Missouri.

After some unforeseen complications, Gareau made the decision to move back to Canada and pursue the next step at the U SPORTS level. The Kelowna product visited UNBC’s Prince George campus this fall, where she had a chance to tour the facilities, train with the Timberwolves, and get to know TWolves coach Neil Sedgwick. She points to that experience as a major factor in deciding UNBC was the right landing spot.

“I think visiting here and playing was something that made me want to come up here even more. If I didn’t come up and train, it would have been different because I wouldn’t have known how I fit in. Now I know I fit in with this team. I think I can be an asset to them and help out. Everyone is super comforting and they have all made me feel like I am already on the team.”

To aid in her transition, Gareau will enroll in UNBC’s psychology program immediately and make the move to Prince George in January. This means the intelligent, patient midfielder will have a chance to grow her game while training with the varsity roster, and get ready for the 2024 campaign. Acknowledging there will be a step up in competition, she gave a scouting report on what Timberwolves fans can expect from her.

“I think I am someone who sees the field really well. I can see it from any angle and I like to play every position. There is nowhere I typically want to be all the time, so I think that’s good. When Coach Neil (Sedgwick) needs me, I can go anywhere on the pitch he wants.”

Sedgwick has more frequently looked to the Okanagan for potential recruits in the last number of recruiting classes. Anna deWynter, Kambria Mellum, Kate Rattee, Maleah Fernie, and Fia Cameron have made a successful jump to the highest level of university sport in the country, and Sedgwick has added Lauren Gubbels, Aimee Glasser, and now Gareau to that list.

The UNBC bench boss believes having his newest recruit in Prince George to begin her training in the winter will be hugely beneficial to her and the program moving forward.

“We are truly excited to have Kayla join us and start her UNBC career in January. This will greatly help her get to know what we are building and how we wish to play. I recognize Kayla’s immense desire to grow her game and be a part of a program which will challenge and support her growth. It’s that motivation and dedication will take her a long way when building through the winter semester and into next season. I am really thrilled to have Kayla join the Timberwolves.”

Growing up in the Okanagan FC club, Gareau played for coach Andy Stevenson. Playing her youth years in the central Okanagan means the 18-year-old arrives in Prince George with a great relationship with a number of current Timberwolves. She points to that comfort level as, yet another, reason to be confident in her finding her stride quickly in green and gold.

“I trained with Anna (deWynter) and Kambria (Mellum) all summer, so that allowed me to see how they play up here. Maleah (Fernie), I played with in Grade Seven, and Kate (Rattee) when I was in Grade Four. I have known them for a really long time and that definitely makes me want to come up here even more.”

“I am so excited. I think this is going to be great. I think coming here, I am really lucky to have Neil as a coach,” said Gareau. “I have heard great things about him. I know people who he is friends with and coach like him, so I am really excited to see how this turns out.”

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