Notre Dame Regional Secondary graduate Francesca Balletta has committed to suiting up for UBC Okanagan Heat women’s soccer’s inaugural Canada West campaign this September.
The prodigious student athlete suffered a setback her senior year of high school when she dealt with a concussion injury. However, thanks to Tom Kristensen, with whom she has been training with at the Spartan Goalkeeper Academy, she feels stronger and more ready than ever to make a big splash on the post-secondary stage.
Kristensen, a renowned coach across the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, is the head goalkeeper coach at the Spartan Academy and Balletta credits her time with him as a major contributing factor to her comeback and preparation for the next level.
“Tom has gone above and beyond in training and coaching me into University level in both the academy and private training,” Balletta said, lauding her time with her coach.
Balletta will bring some size and strength to a roster in need of some more physicality in their new league. Previously a school wrestling champion and gold medalist in Port Alberni, she promises to bring a tough game and mindset to compete day in and day out.
A mindset that Paterson looks forward to having on her roster with the addition of the well-schooled net minder.
"I am happy that Francesca has decided to join our Heat soccer program in our inaugural year in the CIS, says the head coach of the Heat going into her seventh year at the helm. “Francesca comes from a family of goalkeepers and trains with one of the best programs (Spartan Keeper Academy) so she has a sound understanding of what the position demands.”
With Francesca’s quality training and understanding of the position both Paterson and her assistant in charge of keepers, Kai Tolpinrud, were “impressed with her presence between the pipes as we put her through the paces earlier this summer.”
Balletta has also recently played in the TSS Elite Program, where she played in the Metro Women’s U21 league as a sixteen year-old.
Enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program at UBC the rookie keeper can’t wait to get on campus next month.
“I am so excited to start my studies and soccer journey here at UBCO,” bubbles Balletta. “I fell in love with the campus when I came to visit and I knew right away I could call this home.”
It wasn’t just the beautiful campus and thought of studying in the Okanagan that drew Francesca her, she was also impressed with coach Paterson and her future teammates when visiting the Kelowna campus.
“When I visited UBCO everyone including Claire the Head Coach of the woman’s team were so friendly and welcoming to me, this was an environment I wanted to be part of. I am really excited I get to start the new chapter of life here,” continues Francesca, “UBCO has everything I wanted in a school.”
The new keeper won’t have long to wait to begin her Heat career as the women’s soccer team starts training camp in just a few weeks, and will have their first exhibition game in Washington on August 16.
Canada West competition begins for the Heat Sep 6-7 in Prince George versus UNBC, Friday Sep 12 will be the Canada West home opener when the host the Fraser Valley Cascades. Match starts at 5 p.m. on the Nonis Turf Field in Kelowna. Full Heat women’s soccer schedule.
List of Accomplishments:
Notre Dame Regional Secondary
- Senior Girls soccer team 5 years
- Qualified first in league this year (2014)
- On School wrestling team for 5 years
- District Champion 2014
- Port Alberni Gold Medal 2014
- Captain for 2 years
- Honor Roll 5 years
- Nominated for Female Athlete of the Year
- Won School Athletic scholarship
- Received Dogwood performance in athletics scholarship
Trinity Western Spartan Goalkeeper Academy
- Training with Tom Kristensen on weekends
- Tom has gone above and beyond in training and coaching me into University Level in both the academy and private training
TSS Elite Program
- Age 16 playing in the Metro Women’s U21 league
- Played in numerous University Showcase Tournaments
- 2014 Women's U21 Metro Cup Gold medalists
- Participated In the Skagit College showcase tournament 2012-2014
- Port Moody Metro A Cup 2012