It was back in 2013 when the U13 Richmond All-Stars completed a dominant season as B.C. Soccer's Coastal and Provincial “A” Cup champions. The depth of promising talent on their roster would be reflected five years later.
Amazingly, six of the All-Stars’ starting 11 will be continuing their soccer careers at the collegiate level this fall. A seventh underage player at the time — 2001 born Jacqueline Tyrer — has already committed to UBC for the fall of 2019.
The structure of youth soccer prevented this special group from staying intact. A year after their cup triumph, the girls started to go down different development paths. There was the B.C. Premier Soccer League (HPL), Total Soccer Systems’ (TSS) full-time girls program or even staying with the Richmond Girls Soccer Association.
“I think we would have been even more successful if we stayed together through our younger years but it was also better for us individually to develop as players by going different directions,” said Wilfred Laurier bound Madeline de Giorgio, who continued her career at TSS.
The All-Stars coach was Clive Clarke who is no stranger to success in youth soccer.
They were the third local team he guided to provincial honours, joining Richmond F.C.’s Madrid and RGSA’s Red Hot Selects. Even at the age of 12, he could see all the potential in his young players.
“Looking at them then and looking at them now, I could have been a prophet with these six girls,” he smiled. “They definitely have earned everything they have got.
“They were all hard workers and even when they went away to different teams they continued on with the same traits. It doesn’t matter what level you are playing at you are going to succeed with that kind of work ethic.”
Even though the girls will disperse throughout North America next fall, Clarke is confident they will remain close and even be teammates again one day.
“They will all come back here at some point,” he added. “Whether it be playing at the Nations Cup (each summer) or for one of the senior women’s teams. We will see them again.”
Here’s a look at the six All-Star alumni and their post-secondary destination:
University of Nebraska
This multi-sport standout will make it two straight years a Richmond player has ended up at the renowned Big 10 school, joining Natalie Cooke. Both girls came through the full-time TSS FC program under coach Brendan Quarry.
“When I was kind of deciding she had a lot of input. I got a lot of information from her and how she felt about it,”
Dakota also could have played university field hockey but it was her official visit that sealed her future as a Cornhusker.
“I had to go with my heart and I saw myself playing soccer in the future so that’s what I wanted to go with. Once I got to the school it kind of felt like home. Now. I’m ready to zero in on soccer and go for it.”
If Emilie had it her way, the All-Stars might have just stayed in tact and be playing for their sixth consecutive Provincial Cup this summer. She took her career to HPL with Surrey United but eventually returned home to close out her career playing with a very talented RGSA Division One side that won the regular season and league cup titles.
“It was fun playing with them and we were all best of friends so it was kind of sad when it was over. I went to HPL but I missed Richmond and came back down.”
Emilie was offered roster spots with Langara and Douglas College. She choose the closer commute and the opportunity keep playing with a couple of her RGSA teammates.
Washington State University
It could have been a “hat trick” of Clarkes taking their careers to Louisiana State University, however, Ebony decided not to follow her older sisters Summer and Jade.
“I just wanted to do something different but it helped me out a lot knowing what both Summer and Jade had gone through (to play U.S. college soccer).”
Clarke spent time with Surrey United HPL and also in the Whitecaps Elite Girls program. She has also played for Jamaica’s U17 and U20 national teams and remains a big part of their future.
“It’s really competitive and nerve racking but fun too. We usually meet up in Florida for training with American and Canadian (residents) on the team.”
Madeline de Giorgio
Madeline admits she was intrigued with the idea of playing soccer back east and turned to Quarry at TSS for guidance. He reached out to Laurier coach Barry MacLean and an official visit to the Waterloo campus back in October, sealed her decision. The Hawks’ roster already features Richmond’s Ellie Reid who will be entering her third season.
“It’s a well-rounded program and school is not too far from Toronto either which will make it easy to fly home.”
Georgia Gwinnett College
This NAIA school, located about 40 minutes outside of Atlanta, wasn’t even on Maya’s radar screen until the Grizzlies coach travelled all the way to Vancouver to watch her play for TSS. An official visit followed and she was convinced it was the school for her.
“I talked to all the teachers of the programs I wanted to go to and they were pretty inspiring. The classes were really small and the team is super diverse and that was a big part of it for me.
“It was during the season when I visited so I stayed with the girls, practiced with the team and watched them play. They were super welcoming and made me feel like I was already part of the team.”
Northwestern State University
It was playing for Team B.C. at the Canada Summer Games last August in Winnipeg when this Louisiana school stepped up its recruiting efforts to land the talented striker. An official visit followed in October.
Jalen has spent the last four years playing at the B.C. Premier level with Surrey United.
“I had already been in contact with them but it was watching the Summer Games (on live stream) that finalized it. It’s going to be a whole lot different than living in Richmond but I think I’m going to like it and it looks good for (immediate) playing time too.”