Tikka returns to summer universiade

Photo from Heather Davidson

Photo from Heather Davidson

Kelsey Tikka vividly remembers the first time she stepped onto the pitch in Kazan, Russia at the 2013 FISU Summer Universiade.

After getting ready, the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s soccer defender, alongside her fellow teammates and athletes supporting from the sidelines, sung the national anthem.

This was the highlight of Tikka’s journey when she went first went overseas to represent her country and the sport as Team Canada — and now she gets to go back.

Two years later, the recent graduate gets to relive her ultimate dream. As the final chapter of her soccer career at Laurier is about to unfold at the FISU Summer Universiade this July, hosted by Guangju, South Korea.

“It’s kind of nice to have my soccer career end in one kind of finale,” Tikka said. “It’s nice that all my years of hard work and dedication to the sport have paid off, to be able to get that ultimate dream of playing for your country.”

Tikka is the only Laurier player returning to the international competition and one of three athletes returning from the 2013 roster. Tikka is thrilled to be going back and representing her country as one of 22 athletes chosen to play for Canada.

“It’s a huge honour just to be able to go and represent my country, also my school being the only Laurier person and being the only [Ontario University Athletics] person as well,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to be able to show what the OUA and Laurier has to offer.”

“It’s nice to be recognized for all of your hard work and dedication so it finally pays off.”

Tikka is hoping for a stronger finish this time around. In 2013, Canada finished in tenth place and out of a medal, but Tikka is setting the bar much higher for Team Canada when the Universiade begins.

“My expectations going in aren’t necessarily to medal, although it would be nice. My expectations going in are that everybody has worked hard over the last 40 days since our training camp and I expect us to go in and be a real competitor and definitely be a contestant for a medal or at least be that team that everybody fears,” she said.

“Definitely the expectation is to go in and play our hardest and hopefully get rewarded for it.”

As for life after Laurier, Tikka is not ready to give up her soccer career just yet, but is looking to continue playing overseas.

“I’m going back to school, hopefully finish up a degree but I’m not quite ready to give up my soccer career yet so hopefully in the next year I’m going to be looking to play pro in Europe, or kind of see what my options are,” she said.

“[I’m] definitely not giving up anytime soon.”

Tikka begins her run for a medal as Team Canada plays France on July 2.

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