With the loss of only one player from last year’s silver medalist team and several red shirts looking to make the jump to the varsity squad, Claire Paterson has been very selective and recruiting only the best players this spring. Her first signing is a standout from the Immaculata Regional High school team, Justine Drosdovech.
“Justine is a fantastic athlete, she is tall, strong, and quick,” explains Paterson. “I first had the opportunity to work with Justine at the Whitecaps College Showcase in 2010 as a part of a local side that participated in the event. Ever since then I have been looking at her for our program. I have had the pleasure of coaching Justine for the past two years as a part of the Okanagan FC PCSL team where she has really come into her own as a competitor.”
In addition to playing on the PCSL Okanagan FC team since she was in Grade 10, Justine has been the female athlete of the year at Immaculata the last four years, winning the award every year since she was in Grade Eight. Drosdovech has helped to lead the Immaculata soccer team to two golds, one bronze and one fourth place finish at the provincial championships in her four years with the Mustangs. A multi-sport athlete, Drosdovech has also starred for the Mustangs senior volleyball team these past two years.
Justine’s familiarity with Claire was a big factor in her spurning offers from other schools to stay at home and star for the Heat.
“I decided on going to UBC Okanagan first and most foremost because of the great staff I will be coached by,” says Justine. “I have worked with Claire since grade ten when I played for her on the PCSL team.”
Playing on the Okanagan FC club with Paterson and many of the current Heat players allowed Justine a chance to develop chemistry with her future teammates, which was also a large factor in signing on with the Heat.
“I have had the privilege of practicing with the girls on the UBCO team and they are all so talented, friendly and welcoming,” adds an excited Drosdovech. “[Playing in] this environment has helped me to develop my skills so much and I hope to continue developing them even more throughout this season at UBC Okanagan.”
With the Heat typically seen as one of the smaller teams in the PACWEST conference, Claire is excited to utilize the 5’10” defender/midfielder all over the pitch next season.
“Justine is a force to be reckoned with,” says Paterson. “Typically she plays in the back line but her skill set makes her a versatile player. I am very excited that Justine has decided to join our women's soccer team this fall.”
Justine has been accepted into the Bachelor of Science program at UBC’s Okanagan campus where she will battle the likes of Physics and Chemistry in the classroom. On the field Justine will battle for playing time next year with the likes of other stellar athletes such as second year midfielder Michelle Smith (Vernon, BC) and Academic All-Canadian Hayley Carlson (2nd year, Defender, Red Deer, AB).
With any luck Drosdovech’s career at UBC’s Okanagan campus will mirror fellow Mustang Alum and Heat volleyball player Alex Basso. Basso spurned other offers to stay in Kelowna and play for the Heat in the PACWEST (formerly the BCCAA), honing her skills and winning championships before making the leap with the program into the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport).