The Creston Blitz U-14 girls soccer team were the champions of the Columbia Valley Clash of the Titans Tournament hosted in Invermere last weekend.
In his 20 years of sports experience, head coach Dan Schiffke said he has never seen such a tenacious team spirit.
“I’ve never coached a group that will play through adversity and injuries,” said Schiffke, who coaches alongside his wife Jen, brother Steve, and Eve Draxlir.
“They have so much heart, and I think that’s what puts them above the other teams. The girls never stopped. They were taped up, their ankles were hurt, their knees were hurt. And I would have them take a break, and they’d be wanting to go right back yet no matter how hurt they were. They played with strength and determination.”
At the beginning of the season, Schiffke said the girls were unsure of themselves, but he encouraged them to stay positive.
“I guaranteed them that we would be successful as long as we stuck together as a team and believed in ourselves,” he said.
On May 14 and 15, the Creston Blitz won silver in the Terry Walgren Tournament in Nelson, which further sparked their confidence.
“We knew that our skill level was on par,” said Schiffke.
“So leading up to this tournament, we really focused on positivity, team spirit, and connecting with each other to play as one unit. And that’s probably what I was most proud of, the girls really came together.”
The team faced stiff competition at the Clash of the Titans, since other communities, like Airdrie, have facilities that allow year-round play.
“It’s quite an accomplishment for the girls to compete in these tournaments and actually win,” he said.
In the final game, the Creston Blitz had tied with Airdrie 1-1. But with two prior wins in the round-robin play, the team came out on top with gold.
Goalie Priscilla Draxlir had a key save on a penalty shot that helped to secure the win.
“It was just pure joy. It took every single one of them to do their part to pull together as a team,” said Schiffke.
“I think that it will take them a long way in life to believe that if they put it in the work, anything is possible.”
He also contributed the team’s success to the parents who are very supportive of the girls and the coaches.
Coming up, the Creston Blitz will next compete in a tournament in Cranbrook on June 18 and 19.
“We’re going to be focusing more on communication, and just honing our skills and tightening up our gameplay,” said Schiffke.