Sooke soccer player Pete McKay may have tasted big league success, but deep down he still bleeds green and white.
Playing with the Celtic men’s div-1 team for about six years, this fall McKay moved to Nanaimo to attend the education program at Vancouver Island University. While there, he tried out successfully for the VIU Mariners.
“It’s a little faster — the guys are a little better, a little younger,” he said of the university-level game.
McKay recognized a lot of the players and even the coach having played against them in the div-1 league where a lot of them return after the school season ends. The 28-year-old defenceman, who was in Quebec City with the Mariners last weekend for the national championships, also plans to return to the home field in time for the game against Cowichan this Friday.
In late October, the VIU team travelled to Kelowna for the provincials beating out the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-0 in the semi-finals and the Capilano Blues 2-1. In a total of 14 games, McKay and the rest of his defence only conceded six goals in 14 games.
“These guys get pretty pumped. It’s pretty serious, it’s a big commitment — bigger than it is with Sooke. We train three days a week, runs on our off days. We’re travelling every other weekend throughout B.C. and now of course for the nationals,” he said.
While a lot of work, McKay — who has played soccer since he was five — said he is in the best shape of his career.
“My fitness is the best it’s ever been. I’ve learned a lot about soccer and about myself in the last three months.”
His Celtic compatriots haven’t forgotten him, often sending McKay encouraging text messages. After the school season ends, he plans to continue training with the Mariners once a week while making the two- hour drive into town for div-1 games, which he shrugged off.
“There’s no place like playing in Sooke.”
The game on Friday against Cowichan starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Log.