Julia Currie had high expectations for 2020.
The Sydney product graduated from Riverview High School in June and was preparing to move to Fredericton to play soccer with the University of New Brunswick women’s program.
Although the 18-year-old has moved to New Brunswick to begin classes, she won’t be on the pitch this fall.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlantic University Sport was forced to cancel the soccer season, pushing Currie’s university debut to next September.
“I was really excited with the idea that I’d be playing my first AUS season this year, but who would have known we’d have a pandemic,” said Currie. “It’s disappointing, but we understand it’s for the best.”
Despite classes being online this semester, Currie is living in a UNB dorm room and is participating in training sessions with the university team.
“We’ve been training and I’ve been getting to know the girls, so that’s a positive,” said Currie. “I’ve been playing with a few of the girls on the team on a senior women’s club, it’s not the same but it’s nice to get touches on the ball.”
On the pitch, Currie expected a different level of soccer at the AUS level, but that didn’t stop her from having high expectations.
“The goal was to establish myself on the team and definitely get a feel for the higher level,” said Currie. “I’m still looking forward to doing that in the future, but it will just have to be put off for a bit.”
Currie has been part of Nova Scotia’s provincial soccer team for the past four years, winning Atlantic championships in 2016 and 2017.
“I was really excited with the idea that I’d be playing my first AUS season this year, but who would have known we’d have a pandemic,” — Julia Currie
Locally, she played with the Cape Breton FC program and suited up for Riverview High School in the Cape Breton High School Soccer League, winning the silver medal in 2016 and bronze medals in 2017 and 2019 at provincial tournaments.
Currie was also named Riverview’s female athlete of the year and the girls soccer team’s most valuable player.
In February, she committed to the University of New Brunswick, despite having offers from various schools across Atlantic Canada.
“I’ve known for a bit that I wanted to step away from home and experience a new place,” said Currie of her decision to leave Cape Breton. “I visited a few universities and they had good teams, but when I talked to the coaches and the girls here, I knew it was the fit for me.”
The University of New Brunswick has never won an AUS championship in women’s soccer, but Currie hopes to change that in the coming years.
“I’d love to step in here and be part of the team to finally bring a women’s soccer title to the school,” said Currie, who’s enrolled in the medicinal chemistry program. “It’s one of my goals and it will be until my career is finished.”
Meanwhile, Cape Breton Capers midfielder/defender Amy Lynch was preparing to play in her third AUS season this year.
Like Currie, the Sydney native has also turned her attention the 2021 season and has been working on various aspects of her game.
“It was hard to stay focused when COVID-19 first hit because the gyms and parks were closed, so in the beginning I was kind of lazy,” said Lynch. “I decided I had to do something. I was going for a lot of runs around my neighbourhood, doing walks with my mother, biking and doing home workouts.”
As provincial restrictions eased, and fitness centres reopened, Lynch began a workout schedule and has been in the gym every day since.
“I’m working on getting faster and my fitness, but everyone is in a different situation,” said Lynch. “They’re really doing their own thing and we’re trying to get a couple of touches on the ball here and there.”
Unlike UNB, the majority of the Capers players are not in Cape Breton, making it impossible to train together.
However, Lynch said the local players, including Caleigh MacPherson (Lingan), Maddie Coleman (Sydney) and Tessa Dowie (River Ryan), are allowed to start training at CBU. Training sessions were set to begin last week but were cancelled because of tropical storm Teddy.
“It’s good news that we’re allowed to train,” said Lynch. “Hopefully, we’ll have more information soon about getting to train together in January, but as of right now, we don’t really know what’s happening.”
The Capers women’s team was scheduled to host the U Sports national championship in November at the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex. The tournament has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Cape Breton will now host the national event in November 2021, giving the team and university an extra year to prepare.
“It gives us motivation to individually get better and more time to think about what we have to do to be successful,” said Lynch.
As for Currie, she’s already counting down the days until the Reds season opener next September.
“I’m working hard and trying to improve,” said Currie. “I’m taking this as an opportunity to get extra training and hopefully come back even stronger next year and be ready to play in the AUS.”