Skyler Bryant hasn’t met the head coach in person or even set foot on the Dalhousie University campus, but he has a spot waiting for him on the school’s soccer team next year.
The Whitehorse soccer player has signed with the men’s soccer team at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.
Though dozens of Yukon players have gone on to play at the post-secondary level, this time is a little different, says Jake Hanson, coach of Yukon’s Total Soccer Excellence Academy (TSE).
“In my list of players from the Yukon who have gone on to play college/university soccer, Skyler I believe is the 62nd and the first one, to my knowledge, to be signed and scholarshipped in advance,” said Hanson. “The coach hasn’t seen Skyler, but he comes with a good resume and they’re confident he’s a good fit for their program. We have had two other players from here at Dalhousie before, so he knows a bit of the soccer climate and the potential of players in the Yukon.”
Bryant’s deal with the university is an academic scholarship that comes with a guaranteed spot on the Dalhousie Tigers’ 22-player roster starting in the fall. The Tigers compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league.
After months of talks, Tigers head coach Patrick Nearing emailed Bryant the contract to sign at the start of this week.
“When I first got the email from Patrick, I was jumping around my room,” said Bryant. “It’s been a dream of mine to go play at a university for the last few years. Jake and Victor (Lavanderos) and all my coaches have really helped bring that together. I couldn’t be more grateful about it.”
The 17-year-old, born and raised in Whitehorse, is in his final semester of high school at F.H. Collins.
Bryant, a striker and winger, has played for the Yukon Strikers at three national championships, Team Yukon at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games, and captained Yukon’s boys team at the 2015 Western Canadian Summer Games.
“I’ve been playing since I was younger, but I didn’t consider myself truly playing soccer until I started doing Jake’s TSE Academy when I was 12,” said Bryant.
“I was set to be the captain at the Canada Summer Games this year, but I’m not sure what the rules are regarding the CIS and eligibility in it,” he added. “And it lines up with the preseason training at Dalhousie.”
Bryant is currently leaning towards doing his undergrad in kinesiology and later a major in physiotherapy.
It’s not unheard of for elite players to be picked up by universities without attending a tryout, said Hanson.
“Coaches at that level do their research. I don’t know what the coach at Dalhousie, Patrick Nearing, has looked at. He and I have had communication about Skyler and he’s asked me a lot of questions,” said Hanson. “What he’s showed us, and probably the coach at Dalhousie, is he’s achieved very well academically as well as athletically.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org