Playing just one college-level sport isn’t enough for Hapnot grad Alyssa Patterson. She’ll be pulling double duty for Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) this year, hitting both the soccer pitch and the volleyball court.
A former multi-sport star at Hapnot Collegiate, Patterson originally committed to CMU earlier this year to join the Blazers’ volleyball team. First recruited by the school in Grade 10, she is the latest Hapnot product to make a name for herself at CMU, joining several other former Kopper Kings and Kweens on teams for the Blazers.
“When I first got there, the athletic director was inquiring about me playing soccer, too, because they were very short on girls and they weren't sure if they would have a team,” she said. At first, Patterson was hesitant about taking on two sports, but she warmed to the idea over time.
“I went out to a practice and I wasn't sure at first if I did want to do it, because it's a lot to take on as a first year and I wasn’t sure how my classes would go. I didn’t want that added stress of practicing and tournaments - but the season is pretty short, so I decided ‘What the heck?’ I decided to take it on.”
CMU doesn’t typically encourage athletes, particularly first years, to play multiple representative sports. This year, that idea has been challenged - due in no small part to exceptional recruits like Patterson.
“They don’t usually tend to like multi-sport athletes a whole lot just because it’s so much. You have all your classes and between the two, I practice 10 times a week. There’s a lot, but they decided to make a couple exceptions.”
In her first game, Patterson started for the Blazers. Only a few games into the season, she has already found the net, scoring in an inter-conference game against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers Sept. 14.
“Defender Miriam Kabonesa carried the ball into midfield and found Ezri Trump with a purposeful pass. Seeing the run of Patterson ahead of her, Trump placed a well-weighed angle pass to the speedy striker who beat the Rattlers goalkeeper for the first post-secondary goal of her career,” reads the CMU game report description of the goal.
“That was a big moment for me. It’s a surreal experience. I’m a small town girl and I never thought I could play sports like this, at a higher level. For me to get our first point, that was a pretty big moment for me.”
Patterson almost added a second in another game against the Lethbridge College Kodiaks the next day.
There may be an overlap between soccer and volleyball, meaning Patterson might face conflicts as the season progresses. Preseason tournaments for volleyball have already started, with Patterson staying home instead of joining the team for one.
Both teams hold their games and travel on weekends, but once the soccer season ends in October, Patterson will join the Blazers’ volleyball squad full-time.
So far this season, it's been tough sledding for the Blazers' soccer club. With a roster mostly made of younger players, CMU has gone 1-5-1 through seven conference games.
At CMU, many players on the school’s soccer team also play futsal, a fast-paced indoor variant of soccer, during the winter months. Patterson said she won’t be following suit - the futsal season takes place right in the thick of volleyball season.