She started kicking around a soccer ball at the age of four. Growing up she played house, rep, and even high school level soccer. By 2016, local Shelbie Clarke was recruited by Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wolfpack head coach Kelly Shantz to join the university’s program.
“[I] really wanted to work with her to give her the opportunity to go to university and pursue university athletics,” said Mr. Shantz.
Ms. Clarke, along with her family, worked with Mr. Shantz to get her to TRU for camp at spring break and a tour of the campus before she committed to coming to train with the team in early August of this year.
“There’s some cliches in what I do and in what we do as coaches. One of them is you can’t coach height, you can’t make a short player tall. Shelbie’s a solid 5’10” and a multi-sport athlete; you know, she played everything and is very very athletic for a tall, strong girl,” said Mr. Shantz.
Currently, Ms. Clarke is vying for the top goaltender position among two other athletes – a third-year veteran and another freshman goalie.
“It depends on the next couple weeks, more so because none of us have really jumped out in leadership in the goalie’s area,” said Ms. Clarke.
She added that while it’s been fun so far, it’s also nerve racking as it’s harder playing at the university level.
“Being from a small town in a small region it’s not like there’s a big city anywhere near. She really hasn’t had the instruction that a goaltender requires. Some of her technique is really requiring upgrading and the way she moves her feet and the way she moves her hands, her positioning, and stuff,” said Mr. Shantz adding, “She’s such a smart athlete that she’ll get really quick from our goaltending instructor.”
While the head coach said everything’s earned, and that it’s his job to put the best team on the field, there is an opportunity for the younger athletes to get playing time.
“2018 is what I’ve always told her is kinda her go-to year. But if something happens quickly and we get an opportunity in the meantime, she will definitely be given a chance,” said Mr. Shantz.
This season the Wolfpack has 16 freshman players making the program the youngest team in the league which works to Ms. Clarke’s benefit as it will give her the opportunity for playing time.
“She has massive potential. She is doing plenty well enough now to get some time in our exhibition games and be kept on the roster so that we can give her as much instruction as possible through a bit of a red shirt year,” said Mr. Shantz.
At the time of the interview, Mr. Shantz was still assessing each goaltender but projected this year to be a development year for the Invermere local. Giving her a third of the playing time in exhibition games and scrimmages, Ms. Clarke has demonstrated the skill to grow with her new team.