Powell River’s Caleb Vallance has been selected to join the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy for the 2019/2020 season, no small feat for a 15 year old from Powell River.
Caleb was chosen for the Whitecap’s elite program, which includes one of the most talented pools of youth soccer players from across Canada. Only about 70 top players are chosen for the Whitecaps U15, U17 and U19 teams.
The picks were made the week of Monday, February 25, in Vancouver.
Candidates trained on Monday and Tuesday, and on Wednesday they played a game. Caleb shone on the attack, scoring two goals and an assist.
“The days before I didn't feel that good,” said Caleb. “I'd sprained my toe the week before and hadn't really been training. I felt tired and out of shape. When the game came, I don't know why, I just played very, very well.”
As anyone who has seen Caleb play knows, he is exciting every time he has the ball. Even at his young age, with his speed and intricate ball handling ability, he can be a game changer.
The day following his impressive performance on the field, Caleb had individual meetings with Whitecaps academy coaches.
“I was told then that I had a really good chance of making the team and they were impressed by how I played,” said Caleb.
The next day, he received the news. Whitecaps residency recruitment officer Frank Ciaccia sat down with Caleb and his parents, Adam and Laurie, and he was told they wanted to have him on the U17 Whitecaps Academy team for next year.
“It’s amazing; it's pretty hard to describe,” said Caleb. “That's what I've been working for the past few years and it took a lot of sacrifice to get here. It's not the end all. I still have more aspirations but it's a big step for what I've been trying to get to for a long time.”
Caleb has had the support of his entire family, including his sister Ella, who will be celebrating her 18th birthday this month, graduating this year and then heading off to university.
“She definitely gets the whole journey and has been very supportive,” said Adam. “Laurie and I were at the Whitecaps facility at UBC when we were told he was accepted. We texted Ella. She replied with a photo of her in tears. We are all very happy for him.”
A totally new environment from Powell River and a new level of play in United States Soccer Development Academy (DA), the premier youth academy league in North America, and international matches await Caleb, and his family will be there for him along the way.
“I think we'll be moving down mid-August and renting an apartment down in Vancouver so I can still live with my parents,” said Caleb. “We'll still keep our house in Powell River.”
Caleb will be in a strict full-time, high-performance and professionally coached program. Players are not allowed to participate in or with other soccer programs, clubs or teams, or in any other competitive sports.
According to Ciaccia’s letter of acceptance to Caleb, the Whitecaps Academy provides the best conditions to develop and prepare elite athletes for the demands of professional sporting environments in North America and Europe.
But it’s not all about soccer. Caleb, a straight A, grade 11 student at Brooks Secondary School, will continue his studies at the academy.
“All the kids in the academy go to University Hills Secondary School,” said Adam. “That's right at UBC and it's right next to the Whitecaps facility.”
School starts at 7 am. In Powell River, Caleb is used to school starting at 9 am. Classes end at 1 pm and then there is training every day at the National Soccer Development Centre training facility on the UBC campus
“It's a long day,” said Caleb, “but I'm sure you'll get some chill time in the evening.”