Captain, all-star, MVP, and all about the team

Captain, all-star, MVP, and all about the team

Brittanne O’Connor’s drive to create Prince Rupert’s own women’s team has led to success and inspiration

The Prince Rupert Football Club women’s team were the toast of the Northwest soccer world this season, capturing a hat trick of championships in just their second year of organized existence.

Brittanne O’Connor is often at the forefront of the offence, being named top forward in PRFC’s first tournament win in Kitwanga, and MVP during the Haisla Annual Soccer Tournament in July. While she will be the first to credit every team member, coach and volunteer, there is no doubt O’Connor had a particularly important part to play in ensuring Prince Rupert established a women’s team of their own in the first place.

Brittanne O’Connor saw a noticeable gap in the local sporting landscape last year, that being the absence of a dedicated women’s soccer team. Women who wanted to play competitive soccer would have to rely on one of the various co-ed teams, until O’Connor decided to take the initiative to make a women’s team happen.

“We started a ladies league, and it started with us just playing the Charles Hays girls for practice,” O’Connor explained of the team’s origins. “It kind of just spiraled from there.”

After the CHSS season wrapped up, the women kept playing together, eventually deciding to turn these sessions into the formation of a full fledged team. They would become known as the Breakers Breezers in their inaugural season, after receiving a sponsorship from the local pub.

Interest quickly grew in the new endeavour, and soon the Breezers had gathered enough support to start playing professionally. Their first ever game was a high flying 7-1 victory over Kitimat. A new team had been born.

READ MORE: Women’s Prince Rupert Football Club scores a hat trick of championships

The PRFC women won their third tournament in a row at the Haisla Annual Soccer Tournament in Kitimat. O’Connor was named MVP for her two goal effort in a 3-2 win over the Terrace Providers in the final. (Gerry Leibel / The Northern Sentinel)

Another key acquisition by the team was that of head coach Nathan Rochon. He has served at the helm for the entirety of the team’s history, and is well regarded by the players.

“He puts in the time and has really good drills and really good input for us,” O’Connor said. “It’s a hard job to do with all these opinionated ladies, but I don’t know where we’d be without him. He’s a really fun coach.”

The groundwork had been laid, and although the Breezers had a series of solid finishes in regional tournaments, they were unable to crack the top spot in their first year. In their second season the team started by undertaking their own fundraising, resulting in a new blue and white jersey and a team name that represented where the players hail from.

O’Connor can be seen pursuing other sports around Prince Rupert as well. (Northern View file photo)

Back on the field, O’Connor credits a cohesive offseason approach for helping guide the team to the success of the current campaign.

“We all played indoor together, just the ladies. I think that really helped us develop more skill, learning how everybody played, and still playing throughout the winter,” O’Connor said. “When we come into the new season everybody’s got their touch for the ball and are used to playing with each other. We didn’t have that last year.”

“That really made a huge impact on how well we did.”

Not only does this build chemistry, but O’Connor has seen recruitment rise as a result as well. She says engagement with younger female athletes is key to making this happen. Therefore, O’Connor makes sure PRFC continues their close relationship with CHSS.

“Every year before their season starts we do scrimmages with them to get them ready for the season. This year three of the girls joined the team.”

“We encourage all of them to come out for indoor and for the ladies’ seven aside, and see who wants to come out and play competitively,” O’Connor said.

READ MORE: Women’s Prince Rupert Football Club win first tournament ever

O’Connor will continue to pursue both opponents — and a strengthening of the women’s soccer scene in Prince Rupert — for years to come. (Gerry Leibel / The Northern Sentinel)

There would appear to be no shortage of athletes who want to take part in the women’s competitive team. During the Seafest tournament this year – where PRFC won their second tournament of the season – they were forced to turn a few players away as the roster filled up quickly. O’Connor is hoping in the future that a second Prince Rupert team might be feasible if interest continues to grow.

O’Connor has no doubt that the team’s rapid rise in such a short time frame will also serve to attract the next generation of soccer talent in town, as younger girls see what this all women’s team is capable of.

“I just love the feel of all of it. Getting to know everybody and having a good time on and off the field, and the friendships you make along the way,” O’Connor said.

“It’s such a fun game to play, and it’s always a great time.”

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Girls soccerMVP of the Weeksoccer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rose Sawka, 91, reaches out to her son Terry Sawka, on a daily visit through the window, from inside Acropolis Manor where a COVID-19 outbreak took hold on Jan 19. Rose was vaccinated for the virus on Jan. 20 and as of Feb. 25 has remained virus free. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
No increases of COVID-19 at Acropolis -16 residents now recovered

Vaccinations have helped to stabilize Prince Rupert long-term care facility virus numbers

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

BC Bus North was implemented under the NDP provincial government in 2018 when Greyhound cancelled services across northern BC. The transportation funding expires at the end of March 2021. (Photo: B.C. Transit)
BC Liberals call for immediate govt. renewal of BC Bus North funding

BC Liberals spent years ignoring need for better transportation in the North - Jennifer Rice, MLA

Prince Rupert Tourism is benefitting from funding for new welcome and wayfinding signage from the COVID-19 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. McClymont Park on the gateway into Prince Rupert is one of the first things tourists see entering the city by road. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
$695,000 Community Economic Recovery funds to benefit local organizations

Prince Rupert Tourism and Gitga’at Development Corporation to receive COVID-19 recovery funds

Wainwright Marine Services Ltd.’s “Ingenika” tugboat went missing in the Garner Canal area south and east of Kitimat on Feb. 11, resulting in two deaths and the rescue of a third man. (Wainwright Marine Photo)
Tug union demands Transport Canada protect workers along B.C. coast and rivers

ILWU makes safety demands following the deaths of two men and the rescue of a third

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read