Nikita McCartney, a fourth-year psychology student at St. Thomas University, is a role model for the STU women’s soccer program. She said she’s looking to repeat the feat of making history in her rookie season when the team made it to the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association nationals. But this time, she will be spare-heading the quest.
Her favourite memory of soccer was when she played in the semi-finals against Mount Saint Vincent University in her first year. McCartney’s team in her first year had seven rookies with no university experience, as the Tommies won their first Atlantic Collegiate Athletics Association title since 1999.
“The atmosphere and the team’s attitude of playing for each other was something I’ve never experienced before,” said McCartney. “The fact that no one expected us to do well and we made history was also a great experience.”
Since making her debut in 2017, McCartney has played an integral role in the success of the women’s soccer team, including their qualification to nationals. Last season, she was second on the team in goals with six. In the 2018 to 2019 season, she tallied 15 goals. She has 30 career goals as a Tommie.
The Moncton grown striker completed her studies at Harrison Trimble High School, where she played soccer prior to making her commitment to STU.
With the U-Sports and ACAA board of directors’ unified decision to not play fall sports, the 2020 season became a mere fiction of the imagination for many student-athletes.
With not as many players coming back, McCartney still enjoyed playing for the Picaroons White, a team in the New Brunswick Provincial Soccer League this season. She said the players were all grateful to those who worked hard to allow them the opportunity to have some sort of competition despite the pandemic.
“Even though it was a little different and not all our players were able to come back, we all still had a lot of fun,” she said.
The lack of an official soccer season this fall because of COVID-19 has been mentally taxing on many student-athletes.
McCartney said the work the coaching staff has done to ensure that they were a part of the league that was made within New Brunswick was great. They also made efforts to get players practice a few times a week.
“The coaches have tried their best to keep it as ‘normal’ and easy-going as possible … they have done an amazing job and we are all very thankful for them,” said McCartney.
With the 2020 soccer season over before it even began, all eyes are set on the 2021 season. The players are excited to get the season on the road and winning the ACAA championship is the ultimate goal for the Tommies’ women. They narrowly missed out on the championship last season by one goal.
McCartney is staying ready for 2021. She said she mentally prepares for next August’s training camp by knowing she has to get her body ready.
“I know it’s a process and in order to perform at my full potential, I treat my body right by exercising, eating properly and drinking water,” said McCartney.
With the knowledge she has gained throughout the years of playing, she passed along advice to the rookies, saying that they should constantly push themselves, no matter how good they are.
“I would tell them to put in the work before training camp and to know that they all bring their own skills and talent to the table.”