Canadian soccer player Kaylyn McKenzie Kyle has more than just one place to call home. An expansion to the National Women’s Soccer League for the 2016 season saw the midfielder acquired from the Portland Thorns FC, along with forward Alex Morgan, to the new Orlando Pride. The 27-year-old from Saskatoon also plays for the Canadian Women’s National Team, is a Right to Play ambassador, and Under Armour athlete. But where does Vancouver fit in to the mix?
Vancouver is the West Coast base for women’s national soccer team which has held training camps and important matches. In 2012, Kyle played and scored in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament which not only set a record but broke it again in the same tournament for qualification match attendance. The tournament advanced Canada onto the 2012 Olympic Games in London and rallied the nation together. After a heart-breaking and controversial loss to USA in the semi-finals, the Canadian squad defeated France for Bronze.
But Kyle’s connection to Vancouver stretches farther back in her career. She played a total of six seasons for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the W-League between 2006-2008 and 2010-2012. Regular season: 20 appearances, 1 goal, 4 assists. Playoffs: 5 appearances, 3 goals, 1 assist. In between her stint with the Whitecaps and prior to the 2012 Olympics were also a couple of FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup tournaments. Fast-forward and the now veteran player once again got to play at home across Canada, including in Vancouver as a host city, in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
With the world-class National Soccer Development Centre at UBC slated for completion by the 2017 MLS preseason, Canada’s WNT will be further planting roots in the West. Vancouver will continue to be a second, or third, home to Kyle:
What was it like growing up in a family of competitive and professional athletes?
I was extremely lucky to grow up in the family that I did. I had parents that never pushed me, and an older sister that was such an incredible role model for me. I was allowed to fall in love with a sport that I was truly passionate about.
With a soccer career that spans the youth, senior and national stages, do you have a defining moment?
I wouldn’t say that I have one defining moment. I’ve always had passion for the sport. I guess there were stages in my life where I had ‘wow’ factors, and moments that I will never forget, and these all make me truly appreciate what I do even more. I’m honestly so grateful for what my sport has allowed me to see and do. It has allowed me to meet so many amazing people along the way and share my crazy journey with them.
Six seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps means memories and learning experiences, name your greatest:
I owe a lot to the Vancouver Whitecaps organization. They believed in me before I believed in myself. They brought me in at a very young age when I had a Technical Director back home that did not believe in my capabilities. Vancouver invited me out to train, play and grow under them. They also instilled confidence in me that I had lost along the way. I believe they are what made me into the individual I am today and into the player that I have become. There were some club coaches back home as well that pushed me in a positive way from a very young age.
Describe the shift in women’s soccer from the 2012 Vancouver CONCACAF tournament & 2012 London Olympic Games?
It has been massive and women’s soccer has changed for the better. I really started noticing it in late 2012, when we got off the plane from the summer Olympics in London. It is almost 4 years later and teams in North America are still selling out stadiums. Marketing has become so powerful, and we are showing young girls that you can do anything you put your mind to. Ads on TV and in magazines are now women. It has been a huge shift for women’s soccer and I think that has also branched off into other sports, which has been incredible. If we can continue to keep growing the game and inspiring a younger generation we are doing our jobs as both athletes and women.
What does it mean to play for the Orlando Pride in the exponentially expanding NWSL?
It’s huge, and it’s an honour. I’ve played on a lot of teams but to have a coach and organization believe in you both on and off the field is massive. I can’t wait to get the season started, and to start something special here in Orlando for women’s soccer and for women’s sport in general.
What do you do for fun in Vancouver when not training with the national squad?
I love snowboarding or doing anything adventurous with Frankie, my dog, and as long as I’m doing something I’m happy. I also love spending time with friends and family.
What does it mean to be a Right to Play ambassador or Under Armour athlete?
Both are a huge honour. I always try and align my brand with companies and organizations that I truly believe in.
Right to Play is very near and dear to my heart. It not only teaches kids in third world countries life lessons through sport, but it allows them to grow their confidence and show them that they are capable of anything they put their mind to. It’s great going into these communities that sometimes get over looked because of where they are. I’m just happy that I am able to help as much as I can.
As for Under Armour I’ve been with them for about 2 years and our relationship continues to grow. Their campaigns and messages are exactly what I believe in and what I always talk about when doing presentations, coaching or talking to young kids. The messages and campaigns are so powerful and mean a lot to me. I was bullied at a young age, and I always try to instill self belief, confidence and work ethic to everyone I cross paths with, both young and old.
Kaylyn Kyle #EarnYourArmour with Under Armour at Sport Chek
Advice for young women in sports?
Never, ever give up on your dreams and don’t allow others to put you down. When someone tells you that you can’t do something work even harder to not allow them to keep you in that bubble of doubt. Most importantly enjoy life and enjoy the journey because you are never getting those days and years back.
Written by: Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch