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Catholic schools gearing up for Terry Wilson Memorial soccer tournament

Mixed-gender tournament for students in Grades 6 and 7 set for May 31 at Rotary Field

Excitement is building for the 11th annual Terry Wilson Memorial Cup.

No other event on the soccer calendar for Catholic elementary school kids in the north central Interior matches the thrill of what’s about to happen Friday, May 31 at Rotary Field.

It’s not just a soccer tournament. It’s an event, one that never fails to stand out as one of the highlights of the school year for Grade 6 and 7 students.

Not only do they get to wear their school colours in a united team effort but there’s a trophy on the line and the bragging rights that come with winning it.

Sixteen teams will be vying for the chance to get their hands on the Cup, including last year’s champion, Annunciation of Prince Rupert.

All the teams are mixed-gender and include players of all skill levels. Some students have never played organized soccer before.

“It’s known now, everybody knows as they’re coming up the grades at the school that when they get to Grade 6 they’re going to be playing in the tournament,” said tournament organizer Terry Murphy. “They’re all friends, boys and girls, it’s no problem them playing together, it just adds to a great atmosphere.

“Some kids never play before and never play after, but they get a chance to play soccer, and that’s what’s great about it. It’s a one-off day, it’s a field trip. Terry Wilson’s thing was it’s all about the team and, above all, having fun, and that carries through.”

The tournament is named after Wilson, a longtime youth soccer coach and phys-ed teacher in Prince George at St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart schools who also served as principal at St. Anne's school in Quesnel before he moved with his family to Picture Butte, Alta. Wilson died of brain cancer on June 19, 2010 at age 47.

Usually the tournament draws about 20 teams but for some of the out-of-town teams that make up about half the entries. The kids sleep in the school gyms, but the expense of hiring a bus to get them to from Prince George on top of paying for food was a bit too steep for some schools and they were forced to decline their invitation this year. This marks the first time there won’t be a team from Quesnel, Vanderhoof, Smithers and Williams Lake also won’t be making the trip.

Multiple teams (either two or three) from the Prince George schools – Sacred Heart, St. Mary’s, Immaculate Conception and Westside Academy will be vying to bring the Cup back to Prince George. The hometowners will face stiff competition coming from Prince Rupert (including the defending champs), Terrace, Kitimat, and Dawson Creek.

The city of Prince George provides more than 100 free admission vouchers for the Aquatic Centre and Murphy says those passes are well-used by the visiting teams.

“It’s fun for them to spend the night in the gymnasiums, because they don’t do those types of things anymore, unless you’re on a team in volleyball or basketball,” said Murphy. “This year we’re doing a reception on Thursday (May 30) up at Immaculate Conception, after a long day on the bus and we’ll give them something to eat and play some camp games like capture the flag.”