Canadian connection

In the history of Arizona soccer, there have been five Canadian-born players to play for the program; four of those players are on this year's team.


Recruiting north of the border has picked up with three incoming freshmen — forward Kristin Strother, defender Alex Smith and defender Karli Hedlund — now on the Wildcat roster.


""We recruit nationally and internationally. Being at a place like Arizona makes us able to recruit outside the United States because it's a desirable place to go to school,"" said head coach Dan Tobias.


The first Canadian ever to play at the UA was Althea Jones who was recruited by former Arizona soccer coach Cathy Klein and graduated in 2005. The first Canadian player recruited by coach Tobias is current UA senior goalkeeper Devon Wharf.


""Devin was the first one that I recruited; I remember she was in the Canadian national team as a goal keeper,"" Tobias said. ""She wanted to play in the (Pacific 10 Conference) and stay on the west coast then kept following.""


Wharf, who is from Mission, British Colombia, never thought she would be exchanging the forested uplands of Mission for the hot, dry Sonoran desert.


""Honestly, when they asked me to come on my recruiting trip I was like, ‘I'm not going to the desert, what's there, there's no grass,'"" Wharf said.


""But when I got here it was awesome, but the team and coaching staff also played a big role in my decision,"" she added. ""You have to be able to feel like you're at home when you're that far away.""


While Wharf and Hedlund were discovered by the coaching staff through their involvement with the Canadian national team, Smith was discovered after she came to Tobias' summer camp as a sophomore in high school.


""The camp kind of fit into my soccer schedule so it just kind of worked out that coaches liked me,"" Smith said. ""While I was here, I took a tour of the campus and everything just kind of clicked.""


Smith said the biggest challenge in her freshman year has been the Tucson weather.


""The heat has been the only adjustment,"" she said. ""I mean, soccer is the same basically everywhere.""


But despite any problems with the climate, all four players are in it together.


""I played with Kristin (Strother) on the same club team and with Karli (Hedlund) on the national team,"" Smith said. ""We're all pretty close and we obviously have a connection with Devin because, of course, she's from Canada.""


Tobias hopes to continue recruiting internationally as long it contributes to a winning program.


""As a soccer program we have national championship aspirations in the future and we want the best student-athletes that we can get.""

 


Share this article