Twelve years later, her childhood dream of playing soccer for Team Canada at the highest level is about to be realized.

Kyle, born in Saskatoon, is a part of the national team who secured a qualifying spot for this year’s Olympics in London. She wears the red and white jersey #6.

“I mean coming from Saskatchewan and getting to play in the Olympics is incredible. I’m so thankful,” said Kyle. “When the final whistle blew to end the game that put us into the Olympics, I just started crying.”

Kyle is just one of two Saskatchewan-born athletes on the roster for the Canadian team who won games against Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver in January.

At just 23, Kyle’s soccer resume is a lofty one including stints in Canada, Sweden and Italy. She was also a part of Team Canada at last year’s World Cup squad in Germany. Success has found Kyle recently but it wasn’t always that way.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re missing out on things when you come from Saskatchewan because it’s a small market and people don’t notice you,” she said. “I feel I’ve gained things and have a whole province behind me.”

It’s been a long and sometimes treacherous journey for the girl from the prairies who grew up playing soccer at indoor hockey rinks and on gopher-hole-filled pitches. In fact, when she first started playing, coaches put her in the net as a keeper saying she wasn’t good enough to be an outfield player.

“When someone says you can’t do something you obviously want to prove them wrong,” said Kyle. “I’m thanking those people now.”

She’s also thanking her parents. Kyle admits her parents are her biggest fans. They have never pushed her to do anything she never wanted to said Kyle.

“They’re the most incredible people in my life,” she said. “I call them my stalkers.”

Doug and Pat deny the stalker moniker. However, they are bursting with pride.

“It’s overwhelming,” exclaimed Pat. “We’re just really proud parents.”

Much of the pride stems from their daughter’s desire to persevere despite people telling her she wasn’t good enough. That didn’t stop the family from staying positive and humble, traits Pat says are essential to success in life.

“We’ve been through a lot during the past 10 to 12 years,” she remarked. “You just can’t listen to all the negativity.”

Both Doug and Pat were in the stands watching their daughter’s every move in Vancouver. Now, with the Olympics on the horizon, the two are planning their trip to London.

“We’re not getting too ahead of ourselves because a lot of things can happen,” Pat cautioned. “But we’re planning on being there to cheer her and the team on.”

Kyle said her parents aren’t the only people who helped her to where she is today. When asked who was an instrumental coach along the way, Kyle quickly mentioned the name Percy Hoff. For more than eight years, Hoff worked with Kyle in Saskatoon to perfect her game.

“It feels good right now to watch her achieve the success she has, but it’s been a cumulative effort,” said Hoff. “I knew she’d get there some way.”

Hoff moved to Saskatoon from South Africa in the late 1980s and immediately jumped into the soccer scene. Since 1987 he’s been moulding young soccer players in Saskatchewan into high-calibre athletes. He said one characteristic set Kyle apart.

“It’s her mental strength that separates her from most players,” he said.  “And she always has something to say.”

Kyle’s former coach has been watching her along the way and has high praise, admitting she is the future for the national team.

“Right now she’s young. I can see her being one of the leaders of Team Canada in the years ahead.”

For now though, Kyle is going to bask in the afterglow of a ticket to the Olympics.

And what about that note?

“We still have it,” said Pat. “Whenever there are tough times we pull it out to remind her dreams do come true.”

 

Devin R. Heroux (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is a contributing reporter for the University of Regina School of Journalism's 2012 news service for weekly newspapers in Saskatchewan.

Heroux is from Saskatoon, and has spent 13 weeks in the newsroom of The StarPhoenix, fulfilling the internship that is part of the journalism course. He also completed an internship in Thailand, as a foreign reporter with the Bangkok Post.
 
Heroux will graduate this spring. His main interests include international affairs, social awareness and politics.