Alan Alderson's connections in the Lower Mainland are already paying dividends for the UNBC men's soccer program.
Alderson, hired as the new head coach of the Northern Timberwolves in late May, has received commitments from three Abbotsford-area players for the 2012 Canada West Universities Athletic Association season. Tyson Hunter, Connor Noftle and Tyrone Venhola will be in uniform for the T-wolves in the fall. Currently, all three are playing for an Under-18 Abbotsford club in the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League.
Alderson, who coached the Trinity Western University Spartans of Langley for 17 years and also guided youth teams in the Lower Mainland during that time, has worked directly with Hunter and Noftle. They were members of one of his youth squads that placed third in the U-16 North American championships in 2010. Venhola, meanwhile, was recommended to Alderson by coaching colleague Jayson Noftle.
Hunter is a centre midfielder, Connor Noftle can fill midfielder or outside back positions and Venhola is a goalkeeper.
Alderson has made it a priority to bring geographical diversity to the UNBC roster as the team -- new to Canada West this coming season -- looks to gain a foothold and eventually develop into a perennial contender in the league.
"I really wanted to get some boys from out of town into our program," Alderson said.
"I have a lot of kids that I've coached in the Fraser Valley area and they know me quite well so I want to make sure that I keep the pipeline open because our population base [in Prince George] is not big enough to give us a chance to win trophies in Canada West or the CIS. If we can keep some of those channels open and get boys up here that is significant for our program in terms of being able to compete with the rest of the teams in Canada West."
Last year, when the Timberwolves played their final college-level season in the PACWEST Athletic Association, they had 15 Prince George players in their lineup. The squad, which also included Burns Lake product Daniel Dell, qualified for playoffs and finished fourth after a 3-2 loss to the UBC Okanagan Heat in the bronze-medal game.
Hunter, Connor Noftle and Venhola will be in Prince George for the start of training camp on Aug. 17.
For the 2012 T-wolves, Alderson has also locked up local players Jonathan Richards, Brett Bobier, Nikola Knezevic, Cheona Edzerza and Robby Panaich.
The Timberwolves had two training sessions this week, one on Monday and the other on Wednesday.
Alderson will now try to ensure that his potential returning players are on board for 2012 and he'll also be evaluating talent from other northern communities.
The season-opening game for the team is Sept. 7 in Victoria against the University of Victoria Vikes, who enter the year as the defending national champions.