KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat men's soccer program has added Sam McDonald, 6'3" central defender from Kelowna, to their roster for the 2017 season.
McDonald has spent the past four seasons playing for Team BC, Thompson Okanagan FC, and his high school team at Okanagan Mission Secondary School. He played most recently with Team BC at the 2016 Western Canada Summer Games in Wood Buffalo.
He has been a part of the Thompson Okanagan FC for a number of years, and has captained his team since the u13 level in the BCSPL. On his high school's senior team he has put together a list of accomplishments that include being top goal scorer and earning MVP honours at the 2015 provincial championships, a first place finish at that same tournament, and a provincial silver medal at the 2013 BC High School Championships.
The most recent Kelowna product to join the Heat program says that he chose UBC Okanagan primarily because of the academic opportunities and the coaching staff. "I chose to come to UBCO because of the strong academic programs that I can choose from. I have heard really good things about the management program at UBCO and think that the courses suit me very well." He continued, "[UBC Okanagan men's soccer head] Coach [Dante] Zanatta influenced my decision as well. I have known him for a long time and am looking forward to growing and learning from him as well as coach Tom [Flanagan] over the next four years."
"The program is very happy that Sam has chosen to attend UBCO and to play for us," said Dante Zanatta. The head coach of the Heat men's soccer team has worked at times with McDonald at TOFC among other training opportunities. "As a player that had many options [to play soccer at the university level] being able to land Sam bodes well for the future of our program. Sam is an extremely hard worker in training, has a good soccer mind and is good on the ball, being able to work with him over the past years has helped in seeing his development and growth as a player and a person. We look forward in working with Sam over the next four to five years and seeing where is development takes him and our program."
Being from Kelowna, Sam said that the decision was made easier by the opportunity to stay close to family. "Proximity to home was also a deciding factor for me as learning and playing soccer in my hometown has always been important to me."
The soon-to-be high school graduate showed a well-rounded optimism about his upcoming at UBC Okanagan. "I can't wait to get started at UBCO, I feel like I have the skill and ambition to settle in very well here. It will take a bit of time to adapt to the more advanced physical and technical sides to CIS soccer, however I feel like I should be able to fit in well. I am looking forward to the high level of competition and playing under Coach Zanatta at UBCO. I hope not only to develop on the soccer side of things but also grow on the academic side of things and as a person during my time at UBCO."
The fact that Sam's former Okanagan Mission teammate Spencer Young is a rising star with the Heat was undoubtedly an added bonus for McDonald as well.