KELOWNA, BC - Nicholas Reitsma, a local keeper out of Aberdeen Hall Prep School in Kelowna, is the next recruit set to join our UBC Okanagan Heat men’s soccer program this coming September. Prior to Nicholas’ joining the team they had not made it to the Provincial tournament, and with him in net they have been to back-to-back berths in the last two seasons.
Reitsma is also a real citizen of the world. Before landing in Kelowna, he was born in Calgary, then moved to Egypt, then Holland, then Houston, Texas. During his eight years in Houston, Nicholas played for the Houston Dynamo Pre-Academy, and was a member of the regional US National Team Training Camps.
Currently, Reitsma is the Assistant Captain of the Thompson Okanagan FC U18 team. For the past two years, he has also served as the Captain of his Aberdeen Hall side, and was named MVP both years as well. On top of Captain and MVP honours, Reitsma was able to lead his team to two Provincial berths in a row, with the team taking 6th place two years ago, and 7th place this past season. He has also been made a member of Team B.C., where he was named Captain and was selected as one of the Players of Distinction during the Western Canada showcase.
Over this most recent season, during six games in net with Aberdeen Hall, the 6’3” keeper managed four clean sheets, stopped four of five penalties, and only conceded three goals on the campaign. On top of that impressive stat line, Nicholas takes both sides of the label of student-athlete seriously. He is also the elected vice-president of the student council, which he has been a part of for the past three years, and he is also an Honour Roll student. He has also spent the last four years playing high school basketball.
Looking ahead to what he will be able to bring to the 2016 Heat, Reitsma seems ready to make a difference. “Hopefully this year and in the years to follow I can be a brick wall in goal which can help the team into the playoffs. I want to be a confident goalkeeper who can be relied upon in key games while providing consistency in net.”
Adding what specifically makes him the next big goalie for the Heat, Nicholas adds, “[m]y two biggest strengths are probably my confidence and composure. When dealing with crosses into the box and in 1v1 situations I come out very confident, making sure to win the ball and stay big. In terms of my composure I am very calm with the ball at my feet, another skill that sets me apart from many goalkeepers. I am able to play with feet and act as another support for my defenders to make their jobs easier. Also after many high intensity games I can stay very level-headed even in high stress situations.”
Those high intensity games will be a big help in getting used to the higher level of competition that he will be facing in CIS play, as Reitsma is quick to notice. “I do feel confident that the transition will be an easy one, not completely seamless but after a few training sessions I hope to feel confident. Recently I have worked really hard on getting bigger and putting on muscle so that I can compete physically with older players. I think that my knowledge of the game will help me fit in and get accustomed to the speed of play.”
Head coach Dante Zanatta thinks Nicholas will not only fit a need on his roster but will also have the chance to have an impact on the club.
“With the graduation of Logan Ellis securing another keeper was a priority,” Zanatta explains, and we feel that we have one of the top keepers in western Canada joining our program, with Nicholas and Tait [Cuthill, a 3 year starter at GK] I believe that we have the position covered very well and I look forward to seeing these two pushing each other in preseason and the coming years.”
“Nicholas has great size, good hands and is very good with his feet which is very important in how we need our keepers to be, his desire to excel both in the classroom and the field are very important to us as we continue to build our program at UBCO, seeing Nicholas develop over the past couple years has been very encouraging and we look forward to helping him reach his goals with our program.”
The seventeen-year-old definitely does not seem daunted by the challenges and competition ahead of him, and his optimism is infectious. “I am definitely looking forward to the challenges that come with competing with older guys and the challenge of a new team. I look forward to helping UBCO become a consistent contender in the playoffs and hopefully a national champion.” Reitsma, being a local student-athlete, plans to live at home for his first year at UBC Okanagan, which should help make the transition even smoother.
The academic side of his coming time at the Okanagan campus of UBC was also a big factor in his decision to join the Heat program. “I am planning to study in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, graduating with a Bachelor of Science. I was attracted to UBCO because of its location and its affiliation with UBC. The fact that I can stay at home and graduate with a degree from UBC really attracted me.” The evidently forward-thinking young man, speaking on his academic and athletic future, “[u]ltimately I would like to go to Medical School. I want to spend my time at UBCO taking courses that not only challenge me but interest me as well. I want to look back and not regret anything about my undergraduate years and I honestly believe that UBCO can provide that to me.”
It certainly seems that Nicholas Reitsma, keeper and citizen of the world, will be an excellent addition to both the athletic and academic arenas at UBC Okanagan in the next few years.
This video has some clips of penalty saves I have made.