Sardis secondary soccer star Celeste Kirkness will have a familiar face with her this fall as she starts her U-Sports soccer career.
Kirkness has committed to the University of Northern British Columbia where she will play alongside older sister Kalista. Kalista, a defender, joined UNBC prior to the 2019-20 season.
Celeste plays the same position, and shared the pitch with Kalista when both were at Sardis secondary.
“I think it will be a great experience. We have had the opportunity to play together in the past, and it has been really great,” the Chilliwack FC alum said in a UNBC news release. “I am actually pretty excited to be playing alongside her. She has always been very supportive of me and I know it will be good. I hope she enjoys playing with me as well.”
It was almost a foregone conclusion that Celeste would land with the Timberwolves, who are coached by Neil Sedgwick.
The teenager attended two identification camps at the Northern Sport Centre on UNBC’s Prince George campus.
“Being involved in the ID camps. It taught me so many new skills and abilities, and being coached by the older players on the team was really nice,” she said. “It taught me more about the program and that it was something I really wanted to be a part of. It was just a really great atmosphere.”
Sedgwick has been tracking Kirkness’s progress over the last three years and points to her combination of natural ability and dedication to improvement as reasons for encouragement.
“I am excited to watch Celeste within our program. She obviously has a connection to big parts of the team with her sister Kalista here and Celeste’s knowledge of the group. I think that she will take what she knows and use her great athletic ability to truly develop into an excellent contributor. Celeste is hungry for growth. Hungry for opportunity. This is a big opportunity and I think she will embrace it.”
The honour roll student will enroll in Political Science at UNBC. She will join her new teammates for training camp in August.
“I am definitely feeling an array of emotions. I am overcome with joy. Nervous, but good nervous. I am nervous for all the changes coming up ahead, but I know it will be good,” she said. “This opportunity means a lot to me and I am beyond stoked to see where it leads me.
“It (soccer) has been my passion since I was five. Every time I am on the field, I am just overwhelmed with excitement. It has always been my place of happiness.”
The 2020-21 Canada West soccer season was wiped out by the COVID pandemic. The last time the T-Wolves were on the field, in 2019-20, they posted a 3-7-4 record and made the playoffs.
Celeste looks forward to helping UNBC take the next step.
“Going from club to U-Sports is going to be such a drastic change,” she said. “I know the abilities are going to be so much higher; athletically, technically, everything. I am going to be working very hard to get there, improving whenever I can.”