UNBC adds two more into soccer fold

Kitimat native Paige Payne had a full summer to adjust to life as a soccer player in Prince George.

Starting this fall, she's about to get her kicks suiting up for the top team in the city.

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Payne has committed to the UNBC Timberwolves for the 2016 CIS season, having played last summer for the Prince George under-18 team, after a successful minor soccer club career in Terrace.

After a recent workout with her Timberwolves teammates at the Northern Sport Centre fieldhouse, the rookie midfielder knows it's a huge step from youth soccer to the university level.

"The pace is a lot different," said Payne, in a UNBC release. "I need to work on being faster on my toes, becoming stronger, and also learning to play with my head up to see what my options are on the field."

Payne, who now attends Mount Elizabeth secondary school in Kitimat, won provincial bronze in 2014 with the Terrace under-16 team. Payne, an aspiring physiotherapist, has applied for UNBC's biomedical studies program.

"Her soccer IQ is through the roof," said UNBC women's team head coach Neil Sedgwick. "She is driven to learn and grow. Like so many of these young women in this program, she aspires for excellence both academically and competitively. We are thrilled Paige has chosen UNBC."

The UNBC men's team has recruited midfielder Cody Gysbers, who played for the Victoria Highlanders under-21 team as well as the Vancouver Island Wave Division 1 team.

"Those who know him recognize that he is a bright young player with huge potential," said T-wolves men's team head coach Steve Simonson.

"Cody has never been one to back down from a challenge and he has the ability, as well as the mentality, to be an important piece of the Timberwolves future.

"I think Cody truly understands that there is potential in things often where others don't think it exists. He shares our vision for a quality program at UNBC, and he has the determination to commit to the challenge of building a program."

Gysbers knows what Simonson expects of his players. Simonson called the shots as head coach of the Highlanders in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League from 2012-14 until he was hired by UNBC last August. He played four years on Simonson's teams in Victoria.

"It feels great knowing coach Simonson sees potential in my abilities on and off the field," said Gysbers, in a team release.

"His confidence helps build my confidence. Steve is a positive coach who works with all of his players, leaving no one out, and players respect him for it."

Despite the fact the UNBC men finished last in the Canada West Pacific Division standings last year with a 1-10-1 record, Gysbers expects his team to develop into a contender.

"I want to play with a group of guys who believe everything is possible, who believe a national trophy is possible, where the size of the school or its physical location doesn't matter," he said.

Gysbers plans to study next fall in UNBC's bachelor of arts program.

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