The pair – Hagen Herold and Matthew Miller – are the first players in more than 20 years to win $1,000 B.C. Soccer scholarships in the same year and coming from the same town.
Needless to say, both teenagers were surprised by the awards.
“I thought it was amazing,” Miller said.
B.C. Soccer awards annual scholarship to youth players for their involvement in soccer, school and academic achievement.
But the two have taken different routes in their soccer careers.
Herold started playing soccer at the age of 10 in Sooke. At 15, he moved to the Juan de Fuca Vancouver Island Premier League team. Last season he laced up his cleats for the Juan de Fuca Under 21 squad.
He was also part of two District Cup-winning teams in Sooke.
Herold decided to play out his last few years in Juan de Fuca, mainly for the competition, but limited playing time offered in Sooke was also a contributing factor.
“Sooke really needs an [artificial] turf field. There were just so many practices cancelled, so many games. You just don’t get your money’s worth at that point. It was a tough decision, but I’m glad I made it in the end.”
For Miller. he began playing soccer when he was five.
“I hated it at the beginning,” he recalled.
“I didn’t like being touched or bumped off the ball at all.”
Once he started playing in net and discovered everyone is hustling and bumping everyone else, and it wasn’t just him, he stuck with it.
He rose through the ranks and even played with Herold on the District Cup teams.
“It was great to put Sooke on the map. We showed Sooke does have some talent in soccer,” Miller said.
Still, like Herold, Miller said for the Sooke program to succeed, it needs the turf field. (The turf field is currently under construction at Fred Milne Park and is expected to open this fall).
In Grade 10, Miller decided to concentrate more on academics and school activities and switched from being a player to officiating.
“It’s my passion right now.”
Both Herold and Miller will attend the University of Victoria this fall, with Herold taking commerce and Miller enrolled in chemistry.
Miller plans to continue officiating and Herold will continue playing soccer. Herold plans to tryout for the UVic Vikes and possibly play some games for Sooke in the Vancouver Island Soccer League Division 2.
Along with their B.C. Soccer Scholarships, the two have also won scholarship awards from the Sooke Soccer Club, with Miller taking home an additional award from the Lower Island Soccer Association.