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A blast from the past as the Cyclones are back
2023-08-18
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Dario Zulich and the team of SWSE (Sudbury Wolves Sports & Entertainment) were more than a little amped with the soccer news coming out of Sudbury this week.

For the likes of Dayna Corelli and Connor Vande Weghe, however, "a little amped" doesn't even begin to do justice to the emotions that accompanied the latest addition to the Sudbury sports group that Zulich is overseeing.

Long-time volunteers with the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) and soccer in Sudbury in general, the pair are key components of the revival of the Sudbury Cyclones - Corelli as general manager; Vande Weghe as sporting director - that was confirmed just days ago.

After sitting quiet for almost four decades since the team last took to a local soccer pitch, the Cyclones have been granted a League1 Ontario franchise that will commence play in one of the top circuits in the province next spring.

The new entry only adds to the atehletic stable that Zulich and company can now boast, joining the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, as well as the Sudbury Five (Basketball Super League), the Sudbury Spartans (Northern Football Conference) as well as the Sudbury Jr Spartans U16/U18 teams (Ontario Summer Football League).

“This is a testament to our unwavering commitment to the growth and enrichment of sports entertainment in Sudbury,” said Zulich in a team-issued release. “Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and we are poised to ride this wave, catering to a vast demographic that resonates with our values and mission.”

"Together with the community, we're not just bringing back a team; we're reigniting a spirit and laying the groundwork for a vibrant, soccer-loving culture," added Zulich. "The Cyclones will carry the pride and passion of a rich history, but will also inspire new generations to play, cheer and dream the beautiful game.”

Though both Corelli and Vande Weghe enjoyed successful post-secondary careers at Laurentian University on the heels of their competitive soccer pathway throughout their youth in Sudbury, both were quick to note that the revived franchise will help increase the opportunities for those who wish to remain at the top of their game for as long as possible, even if it’s not as a soccer professional.

“There is nowhere in Sudbury to play quality soccer after university,” said Corelli. “There is now a pipeline of players here, a solid U18 team and a whole bunch of players with nowhere to go after university or college.”

In fact, the League1 model should assist current programs at both L.U. and Cambrian College.

“This is supposed to help fill the gap in the summers between the academic years,” added Corelli. “Those are the kind of players that we have in mind.”

A graduate of St Benedict Catholic Secondary School, Dayna Corelli was a member of the Panhellenic (1990-born) Girls team that earned a berth in the top-ranked OYSL (Ontario Youth Soccer League) loop in the early 2000's before joining up with head coach Rob Gallo and the Lady Vees.

Following her playing days, she mentored as a coach under the guidance of Giuseppe Politi, working in a variety of capacities during her time with the Cambrian College Golden Shield program.

In 2014, Corelli was selected as one of 14 participants across all CCAA sports to be part of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Female Apprentice Coach Program, all while continuing to guide young women throw GSSC Impact teams at both the youth and OWSL levels.

Also a graduate of St Benedict's, Connor Vande Weghe would earn Team MVP honours on multiple occasions with the Voyageurs men's soccer team, named as an OUA all-star twice during his years at L.U.

Following his graduation from the Sports Administration program, the now 25 year-old full-time accountant would work with the Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS), returning home to handle the office administrative duties for the GSSC and squeeze in one summer suiting up with the Thunder Bay Chill (USL - League Two).

With the Sudbury Cyclones and other recent expansion teams welcomed to the fold in recent years, League1 Ontario will now expand to include three tiers of play: Men's Premier, Men's Championship and League2 - with the Cyclones beginning this journey in the latter, looking to work their way up in a format that mirrors professional soccer in Europe.

First introduced to Sudbury in the 1970's, the Cyclones will revive a name that existed when the squad competed as part of the NSL (National Soccer League) at that time.

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