Attracting new talent a key for SWSC
by Randy Pascal
Early July means that it's time for the first tiering of the 11-team loop that is the Sudbury Women's Soccer Club (SWSC) league. A summer fixture
locally for at least the past thirty years, the organization has just completed their initial ten game full round robin schedule, breaking into top half
and bottom half segments for the next three weeks.
With some twenty years at the helm of the SWSC, president Nicole Gravelle has noted a few more challenges, in recent years, for teams looking to
attract new talent in order to replace the inevitable attrition that will occur annually. In that sense, out of town transfers provide very welcomed
additions, as was the case when radio personality Melissa Kelly (Rewind 103.9) arrived from Thunder Bay in 2017.
“I love soccer, so one of the first things that I did when I arrived last year was to search for women's soccer,” noted the native of Sarnia. The
designated spokesperson, on this night, for the Michael F. Cecutti & Associates squad, Kelly has quickly gotten herself up to speed with her new
teammates and their recent past, including the soccer wardrobe with which they have been adorned.
“We're the pink team now, we were yellow before,” she said. “We were sponsor-less for a few years, but this year, we got a sponsor, which is why we got
new jerseys, which is always nice, because the other ones were getting a little raggedy.”
Fashion issues aside, Kelly is thankful for the group that she now calls her own, one which she initially joined last summer. “I think we're lucky to
find so many people with a similar sense of humour,” she said. “We're competitive, in the sense that we like to compete, but at the end of the day, we're
having fun. It's ladies houseleague, we get out a couple of times a week to get our exercise.”
Although MFC have enjoyed a core group of talent that have now been together for some time, even something as simple as deciding on positions of play was
not particularly stressful when newbies, like Kelly, are added to the fold. “Honestly, in this league, it's a question of where do you like to play, where
are you comfortable playing,” she said.
“Thankfully, there are a few people who don't mind playing whatever position is needed. They just suck it up for the team.” MFC completed the first
segment of the schedule with a record of 5-5-0, deadlocked with IBS (Integrated Benefit Service) with 15 points and looking to make up some ground
on the top four.
That quartet included a pair of teams that were also in action Thursday night at Cambrian College, as ICAN – Independence Centre and Network
(7-3-0) and Sudbury Credit Union (8-1-1) went toe to toe. Both teams have been league mainstays for quite some time, with some very familiar faces
helping to bring it all together for both of these crews.
Along with teammate Jennifer Rocca, Cora DeMarco has been with ICAN (previously Beef n' Bird, for the better part of a decade) since her
initial tentative steps on to the SWSC pitch as a precocious 19 year-old more than a decade ago. “We're the same team, we've just evolved and added
players,” said DeMarco, who did not pick up soccer, in earnest, until her young adult years, focusing on hockey and alpine ski in her youth.
“This year, we did a lot of recruiting. Jenn is still working part-time in a restaurant, so she tends to be able to get young people that she works
with.” Just north of her 30th birthday, DeMarco acknowledged that there is likely a little more thought that goes into her decision to return with every
passing summer at this stage of her soccer career.
“Every year, I think I am getting too old for this, I picture myself walking into work limping,” she said with a laugh. “But if you stop coming out,
then you'll start limping. That's what keeps us coming back, I think.” That, and the glue that keeps this all together.
“Nicole (Gravelle) runs the best league, she's a rock star,” said DeMarco. “She's so organized, everything is so easy for us. It's painless – and she
always thinks of the funniest things to be different with the awards.”
Trailing the top seeded T2 Training Systems by just three points, Sudbury Credit Union will, once again, find themselves seriously in the hunt
for some of that aforementioned league hardware. But like most of the teams in the league, SCU have been dealing with some key turnover, though the end
result has been quite positive.
“We still have our core, but we did lose a few girls to either moving away or pregnancies,” said long-time team manager Anna Frattini. “We
managed to get a couple of new ones, and a few came from other teams, so it's looking good.”
The reality for most adult sports teams is that there is an almost constant watch for potential players, with those who have enjoyed some success in
attracting new faces to the mix generally doing so by leaving no stone unturned.
“I start with everyone that I know, and I have different networks, so that's helpful, but this year was a bit more challenging,” said Frattini. “I
exhausted all of my contacts, but I also ask the girls to look into it. I didn't want to poach anyone, so I just went over after our last indoor game and
asked if everyone had a team for outdoor season. A couple of girls came our way because of that.”
For more information on the Sudbury Women's Soccer Club, kindly visit the league website at www.sudburywsc.ca, or email Nicole Gravelle at