As she gets settled into her dorm room, Prince Albert soccer player MacKenzie MacAuley is excited to hit the pitch as a first-year goaltender for the University of Victoria Vikes.
Attending the school on an athletic scholarship, the former Carlton Crusaders and Prince Albert Celtics backstop was recruited by the Vikes organization in December.
Moving away from home for the first time, MacAuley is adjusting well to campus life as the Vikes pre-season kicked off last Wednesday.
‚ÄúB.C. is a beautiful part of Canada,‚ÄĚ MacAuley said. ‚ÄúGetting to come out here and move away from home is just awesome.‚ÄĚ
With six-time national champion and Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame member Tracy David at the helm, the Vikes varsity women‚Äôs soccer squad plays in the Canada West division of Canadian Interuniversity sport.
David won the Canada West coach of the year award in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2013.
Last season, the Vikes finished third in their division with an overall record of 12-3-0.
‚ÄúThey have a really good track record,‚ÄĚ MacAuley said of her new squad. ‚ÄúTo play under Tracy David, who‚Äôs had experiencing coaching at the national level, it‚Äôs very exciting.‚ÄĚ
Since landing in Victoria last week, MacAuley has been immersed in team practices, which run about twice daily.
With school starting on Sept. 3, MacAuley will be pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and she is confident she will be able to juggle both an athletic and academic life.
‚ÄúThey are super understanding here,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúIf I have to miss any of my classes for travelling, they‚Äôll work around it. They are really good at helping varsity athletes balance school and sports.‚ÄĚ
MacAuley developed her skills through the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association as a member of the Celtics and has also represented the province at the Canada Winter Games.
Now playing with girls nearly five years older than her, MacAuley welcomes the challenge of playing at a higher, more intense level of The Beautiful Game.
‚ÄúI‚Äôll just be here to work my hardest and hopefully get into a couple games,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm just here to learn mostly.‚ÄĚ
Although moving away from her home in Prince Albert is intimidating, the 18-year-old keeper has her brother and fellow goalie Dawson lending a hand.
A former Prince Albert Minto, Dawson MacAuley has appeared between the pipes for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League.
Last season, the 20-year-old backstop wrapped up his first full season in the league with the Pats, appearing in a career-high 50 games.
Having also left home at a young age, Dawson knows first hand what his younger sister is going through.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been really good with helping me move away,‚ÄĚ MacKenzie said of her brother. ‚ÄúHe moved away as a 15-year-old, he understands all the different emotions I was going through. It‚Äôs been really good to have him."
The Vikes CIS season kicks off on Sept. 5 as they take on the Trinity Western Spartans at home.