Soccer success is a family tradition for Kristina Bechthold, and one she’s eager to carry on.
Her late grandfather, Robert Kelly, was a past Team Canada player and captain in the 1950’s and 60’s, and the soccer madness has certainly continued on down to the youngest generation.
Soccer dominates Bechthold’s lifestyle. The Grade 11 Louis-Riel high school student is working non-stop to obtain a post-secondary soccer scholarship – perhaps in the U.S. like her older sister, Avery. Or she may like to chase professional opportunities in England like her brother, Haydn, a 2016 Louis-Riel grad.
“I definitely want to play soccer (after high school),” underlines the member of the Louis-Riel Soccer Academy. “It’s such a big part of my life. I’ll see where it takes me.”
Bechthold lives a fair distance away in Greely, but chose to attend Louis-Riel because of what the school’s renowned sports-study initiative offered.
“The program is great,” signals Bechthold, highlighting the unique chance to practice under FC Barcelona-trained coaches on a daily basis during school hours, and play with the FCB Escola Ottawa team in the Eastern Development League.
“It’s really exciting to have that connection,” adds Bechthold, noting most high schools would never even dream of developing a relationship with a world-class club. “And it’s just really cool that we have our own Dome too.”
The Dome LR allows athletes to play year-round on a full-size pitch and complete their physical training on-site at school as well. But the biggest asset to the Louis-Riel Soccer Academy in Bechthold’s eyes is program director Joé Fournier.
“He’s more than just a coach,” explains Louis-Riel’s 2016 Junior Athlete of the Year. “He connects with you and make sure you’re doing well outside of soccer. I feel like I can speak to him like a friend as well as a coach.
“He’s made a lot of personal sacrifices to make this program possible and he’s just so dedicated to giving us the best experience here.”
It wasn’t an easy transition at first for Bechthold to move from her elementary school. It was daunting for the past French immersion student to study full-time in her second language at a school where she didn’t know anyone, but Bechthold knew she’d found the right place nonetheless. There was a “lively and exuberant” atmosphere throughout the school, and she was surrounded by many other student-athletes motivated to be their best, she recalls.
“I was really shy at first, but all my coaches and teachers helped me through it and have really pushed me to do my best,” notes the winner of Academic Excellence Awards for Math, Science, English and French. “Now I’ve made a bunch of new friends and I’ve really applied myself academically. I’ve really exceeded what I thought I would ever do.”