Women’s soccer co-captain
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
When Michelle Wessa enrolled in Douglas College’s Sports Science program, she thought that she was stepping away from the realm of competitive soccer. Little did she know, she was carving a path to greatness, in her own way.
Born in 1993 in Vancouver, Michelle Wessa didn’t start playing competitive soccer until she was seven years old, which is older than most other collegiate players. She began playing with her cousin, whose father coached a team. When her father began helping his brother coach, Wessa found herself playing alongside her cousin, and quickly fell in love with the game.
She played throughout her adolescence, and after graduating high school, was recruited by Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She studied there for two years while playing on the team, but would eventually take her leave from the program. Wessa explained her reasoning behind the decision in an interview with the Other Press. “It was just a lot. You were practicing how many times a week and then had games on the weekend. And I wasn’t really doing anything at Kwantlen in terms of schooling. I liked the program here at Douglas.”
However, transferring programs was not the only thing Michelle did. She also stepped away from competitive soccer for two years to focus on her studies. A rocky start at KPU had done little to convince her to continue playing, and with her education-focus locked, she thought she was done with playing high-level competitive soccer.
But over the span of two years, and dozens of recreational soccer games, the competitor in Wessa called out for more. She yearned for a harder challenge, and a more competitive environment, and she knew just where to find it. She contacted Chris Laxton and expressed her desire to try out for the team. The first time she stepped back onto the field in a collegiate uniform, Michelle Wessa could tell that this experience was going to be a different one. “I loved coming back into competitive soccer last year. I knew some of the girls from some of my classes and of course, I knew Tiffany O’Krane from my years at KPU. Having relationships prior to coming on to the team was comforting and meeting everyone else was great. I found a spot on the team and I did well and I was confident, and I was playing more consistently than I ever had.”
Her confident play earned her a spot on the roster come the time of the pre-season cut, and by the end of the season, she had worked herself into the starting 11. Wearing the number 14 and playing in the role of defensive midfielder, Wessa played a large part in last year’s Championship team, and is one of the few from that roster to come back. Her experience is invaluable to the team, and many of the younger players look up to her. For Michelle, that feeling is a new one, as just last year, she looked up to many of the players she played with. “It’s interesting,” she explained. “Just knowing that you’re one of the people they look up to and you have to be the one encouraging them to work hard and keep pushing. Last year, I had a number of people that I looked up to and now I’m that person, which is crazy to think about, because when I joined the team last year, I didn’t think I’d ever be that person.”
So when Chris Laxton announced her captaincy, which she shares alongside second-year student Samantha Kell, no one on the team was more surprised that her. “I was a little taken off guard, I was excited, and I was nervous,” she recalled. “I know people have mentioned I’m a leader on the field, but more-so in the sense that I lead by example. I talk a lot off the field but not so much on the field so I’m learning how to be a lot more vocal and helping everyone else figure out what to do in their position. It’s definitely a learning curve.”
But no matter how hard it may get, Wessa knows that she can count on her teammates. All of them are supportive of her new role within the team, especially co-captain Kell. Their support means a lot to her, and that environment creates a unity that must be ready to face the toughest of the tough as the team goes on to defend their title and continue their winning ways.