Acadia University mid-fielder Michelle Pryde looks out over the playing field just prior to the start of the CIS Women’s Soccer Championships.
©Wendy Elliott, Kingscountynews.ca
WOLFVILLE – Acadia University soccer midfielder Michelle Pryde is having the time of her life this week with the CIS Women’s Soccer Championships on Raymond Field.
Michelle feels fortunate her parents, Collin and Deana, are in Wolfville for the week’s games. Then on Nov. 9 her older brother Carson and his fiancée surprised her with a well-timed visit.
“It was the best surprise ever,” she declared. Later the visitors ramped up when her second brother and an aunt arrived in town.
Her folks, who enjoy coming to the Annapolis Valley, were in Cape Breton this past weekend to watch the Axewomen battle during the regional conference.
“We played three over time games,” says Michelle. “We had to fight hard. There’s a lot of heart among the teams in our league.”
The Acadia team ended up second in the league after St. Francis Xavier University, but fortunately the conference gets to send its top two teams to nationals.
“We are going because we have earned the spot,” Michelle pointed out, “despite the fact that we are hosting, as well.”
The Axewomen will play in the quarter-final game of the championship on Thursday, Nov. 10. the team will play the UBC Thunderbirds after the opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m.
Michelle generally plays either a holding midfield position or an attacking role. She’s scored four goals this season, but her job is not to rack up points. Her eye is always on the movement of the ball, she points out, and if that awareness allows her to run toward the net she does.
“I like both positions. It’s either or,” Michelle says. “They’re both really great and it’s the girls on the field that dictate the play.”
In her mind, she has dual priorities. One is to reach the individual goals she sets for herself as a player and the other is to aid the teammates on the field around her. Five years of achievement under the expert coaching of Amit Batra “is pretty awesome” as well she acknowledges.
Michelle graduated in May with honours in chemistry and math and notes that sports science, nutrition or medicine might be in her future. She decided to return for a fifth season due to the fact Acadia is hosting the championships.
“Coming back is literally living the dream for me,” she says.
Until this fall Michelle was highly focused on two roles, her intense studies and her favourite sport. The choice to come back has also meant she doesn’t have to be “wired to go, go, go. While I loved the material, I had three labs every week.”
Achieving academically and athletically “did not come easy. There was a lot of blood and sweat and tears.”
In 2014 Michelle was one of eight CIS athletes rewarded with the Governor General’s Academic all-Canadian Commendation and she was the female recipient for the Atlantic University Sport conference.
Now the 22-year-old from Calgary is enjoying three courses: world rhythm and drumming, guitar and physically active living.
“I love music and did the Royal Conservatory, so I am grateful.”
Michelle also appreciates living in Wolfville. “This is a really special place. It’s out of this world when you’re from a big city.”
Having felt the support from friends and the community for her team, Michelle adds that personal support can be pretty amazing too.
When her parents visited previously, for example, they stayed at the Harwood House Bed and Breakfast. She was invited to breakfast with along them. Later Peter and Frances Jucker invited her over for Sunday night home cooked meals.
The town of Wolfville because of Acadia, Michelle believes, has a unique vibrancy. The physical and academic environment broadened her, while “I learned to be on my own. I’m really a homebody, but the Acadia family is always checking in.”
Michelle is preparing herself for a huge dose of nostalgia and emotion during the championships.
“I broke down at the (league) final,” she says. “This is the highest level of soccer I’ll play and I’ve been so, so long at this level, I think it’s going to be devastating. But my body will probably like it.”
She’s experienced two injuries and concedes that time away from the game will allow for the rest and recovery her limbs need. But Michelle adds she will hardly stop playing her favourite sport.