Brinker joins Mountaineers
Kim Brinker is getting the best of both worlds.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student at Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf in Welland has committed to Mohawk College where she will study pre-health sciences and play soccer for the Mountaineers.
“It’s very exciting,” Brinker said. “It’s a great school academically and it was something I was seriously looking into and now just the added aspect that I can go and play my favourite sport and my favourite thing there, it’s super exciting.
“With the pandemic, it’s been super hard so I’m really glad I kept pushing through and have this great opportunity.”
Brinker is looking forward to the challenge, both in the classroom and on the pitch.
“We get a lot of educational sessions about colleges and universities and have a lot of coaches talk to us about it, but you can only get so much from someone else’s words,” she said. “I feel like when I will get into it, I will understand it fully.
“I feel college ball will be a lot more intense. It’s next level and a big step up from what I’m doing now.”
Brinker played high school soccer and also has a long history with the Empire Niagara Soccer Academy where she started as a 13-year-old.
“Kimberly is an amazing defender. She was so talented she was able to play with our U16 girls Empire Girls team,” Empire Niagara technical director Davide Massafra said. “Despite the physical challenge to play against stronger and older girls across the U.S. and Canada in showcase tournaments and leagues, she learned how to defend in such difficult competitions with great results.”
Massafra feels Brinker has all the tools to make the transition to the college level.
“She is extremely talented one-on-one defensively and offensively. Kim is an outstanding full back (right or left) capable of playing cornerback without a problem. She is also able to play the ball with both feet and is perfect for crossing and shooting from any part of the field.
“I had very high expectations on her and sometimes I wasn’t easy on her. But I’m sure it did push her enough to become what she is today.”
Massafra feels the sky is the limit for Brinker.
“Unfortunately, several injuries and some unlucky situations didn’t allow her to show enough and be able to express her full potential — she could easily play Division 1 or at the provincial level.”
Brinker, who has been doing strength and cardio training, has missed the team aspect of soccer with the COVID pandemic shutting down most sports the last year.
“It really struck me at the beginning because that’s my outlet for stress relief, for being social, for getting to see my friends and just getting the stress of everyday off my back,” she said. “It’s the place where I am comfortable. Not having that, it was really hard in the beginning. It’s still really hard but I’ve adapted a little more and I’m doing more stuff on my own.
“It was super disheartening. It was in middle of Grade 11 year and I’m trying to get recruited and it all went down the drain. Mentally, I had to pick myself up. I had to rewire and find a different way to do it. It was a really big shock. Once I adapted, it got a little easier but I haven’t stopped missing it.
“If they called me up right now I’d get my stuff on and run out the door.”
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