Tikka to play for team Canada

Tikka plays defence for the Golden Hawks (Photo by Heather Davidson).

Tikka plays defence for the Golden Hawks (Photo by Heather Davidson).

Every athlete dreams of one day being able to represent their country. And for Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer defenceman Kelsey Tikka, that dream is finally coming true.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Tikka. “The goal of every athlete is to represent their country and for me to finally be able to do that is an amazing opportunity.”  Tikka was selected as one of 20 female student athletes across the nation to represent Canada in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia from July 5-17. The Summer Universiade is the Olympics for university students and sees countries from around the world compete in a multitude of sports and events.

Along with being the only Laurier student selected, Tikka was also the only player from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West division chosen.

“It’s definitely an honour and now not only am I representing Laurier, I’m also representing the OUA West so it’s nice to have that,” she said. “I’m hoping it will help to boost my confidence for the next season as well.”

Tikka has been the top player for the Golden Hawks this year, as she was named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) All-Canadian for the second consecutive year, and was a central part of the Laurier defence as they went on to win the OUA West division allowing just 11 goals in 16 games. Tikka also recorded her first-career goal with the Hawks this season against the Windsor Lancers on Oct. 14.In the semifinal of the OUA, Tikka held the Queen’s Gaels scoreless to go into penalty kicks, where Laurier won to advance to the OUA final and qualify for the CIS national championship.
She was then awarded the 2013 President’s Award at WLU for being the top female athlete.

“I’m hoping my previous accomplishments have prepared me pretty well for this tournament,” Tikka said. “But it’s also a different atmosphere when you play internationally for the first time so it’s all up to me to prepare further before I go.”

Tikka is the second Golden Hawk to compete in the tournament for women’s soccer. Former teammate Alyssa Lagonia competed in 2011 in Shenzhen, China, where Canada placed fifth.
“As soon as [Alyssa] found out she contacted me to let me know what to expect, what the competition was like, how to get adjusted to the lifestyle over there,” she said. “She told me to just train as if I was here, it’s just soccer and I should just have fun with it because that’s what it’s all about.”

Despite a strong fifth-place finish in 2011, Tikka has higher expectations for Canada for this year’s Universiade.

“Each year, Canada keeps getting better and better in the tournament. So I’m assuming this year we’re going to build on top of that,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll have a good tournament and a good showing so we may even be able to place this year.”

Tikka said she is looking forward to the challenges the Universiade will bring.
“It’s going to be a fun and new experience for me, so I’m excited to play some higher level soccer and see what the competitions like out there,” she said.

But competing at the Universiade is just the beginning of what she’s looking forward to in her career.

“I’m looking to follow in the footsteps of my teammates and how they played professional women’s soccer over in Europe. That’s definitely a goal of mine and I’m sure this will give me an insight for what that will be like once I go play.”

Canada is placed within the Group B pool for the preliminary round along with Mexico, Ireland and reigning champions China as they kick off the tournament on July 5. fin

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