(ISN) – Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack soccer team has reached back into its past in order to secure some stability for its future in goal. Head coach Tom McManus is pleased to announce his fourth recruit for the 2015-16 Canada West season—third with roots to Kamloops and second keeper.
Taylor Shantz has agreed to join the WolfPack as of August. The 5’11” Norkam grad has spent the last three seasons with the Quest University Canada Kermodes of the PACWEST.
Shantz (pronounced Shawn-tz) had three shutouts with three wins, four losses and four ties with Quest in 2014-15.
“I have always wanted to play at least some of my career at TRU,” she says. ” I love the campus and being back home will be special. It has the programs and courses that I want to purse so the fit is good.”
Shantz will be achieving a Bachelor of Science at Quest but will be adding a Bachelor of Education degree while at TRU with an eye to teaching. “I’ll either enter the Education program directly or spend time adding courses to my list so I can teach more subjects before taking the Education program the year after.”
“I think being tall and having some basketball experience definitely helps me as a keeper,” she states. “I think a big strength of mine is my play in the air on high shots and crosses. I have always worked hard on my foot skills and I think this is a big advantage. I play the ball well with my feet to assist my backline and I can distribute the ball all over the field. I feel like I am fearless on the pitch, so I am aggressive on breakaways and in traffic.”
Shantz believes coming into the WolfPack program is advantageous with the graduation of last year’s starting keeper Emily Edmundson (Kamloops, BC). “Coming to a team which has lost a graduating keeper will open the door to more playing time for sure. But I have always worked very hard in the off-season and showed up to camp prepared to earn my time. No different this year.”
Shantz will battle last year’s back up Shalayna Isakson (Kamloops, BC) and freshman Deanna Brady (Richmond, BC).
Coming to TRU is coming home in many ways for Taylor Shantz. In the summer, she plays for her father Kelly with the PCSL Premier League Kamloops Heat. He was an assistant coach with the WolfPack for a number of years and brought her to training sessions as a youngster. “I know it sounds corny but this has always been a dream of mine,” says Taylor. “I started hanging around TRU/UCC soccer when I was eight years old. I spent the next eight years shagging balls at practices, doing stats on the sidelines and going on road trips. I have great memories of those years and all the great players who were very good to me. I was very lucky to have great scholarship offers to play at SFU (her first year, NCAA Div II) and Quest. I have grown up a lot being away from home for four years. But I am really looking forward to wearing the WolfPack uniform.”
Many of her Heat teammates play for the WolfPack and feels that familiarity should help make the adjustment to CIS easier. “Playing with so many of the girls through minor soccer and most of the others with the Heat means we should have chemistry right away and know each other’s habits.”
But she knows—like the WolfPack found out last season—CIS and Canada West is a big jump from PACWEST and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association. “I think my experience working with the Heat moving from the Reserve to Premier Division is similar. The pace is faster in Premier and the players technically better and physically stronger. I will take from what I learned three years ago and use it to my advantage this coming season with TRU.”
Her coach this year with Quest was Craig Smith. He has nothing but good things to say about her. “She has improved tremendously mostly due to her hard work. She is a great shot stopper, brave and her feet are now excellent. She will adjust no problem to Canada West. Taylor was a huge member of our team and has a fantastic work ethic. She is a great girl to be around and will be a great asset to any program. She has grown into not only a fantastic goalkeeper but an amazing young woman.”
Coach McManus explains how the Shantz signing occurred. “Taylor contacted me via email for a meeting. We met during the Christmas break and discussed her attending TRU for her final year. During the discussion, she said it was between TRU and UBC for academics. She will come into training camp fit and ready to compete. She knows there will be other keepers at training camp and it will depend on how she does as far as where she is on the list. I am happy to have her attend and am looking forward to next year.
CORNER KICKS: Shantz’s fondest memory growing up around the WolfPack soccer program? : Definitely the girls who played for the team back then. It was like having 20 older sisters every fall. I used to bake them cookies after every game.
Other WolfPack recruits for the coming year: Nikki Manwaring (17, 5’3″ Striker, Kamloops, BC/Valleyview Secondary), Deanna Brady (17, 5’5″ keeper, Richmond, BC/McRoberts Secondary), and Brittany McDonald (17, 5’5, midfielder, Kamloops, BC/St. Ann’s Academy).