David Armstrong was a founding member of the Charles Hays Debate Club. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

MVP of the Week: Soccer to Socratic

David Armstrong is showing his skills on the soccer field, debate team, and beyond

For David Armstrong, soccer served as a path to finding friends when he arrived in a new town. Now, it looks like the sport will continue to play a positive role in his life by setting the Charles Hays senior up nicely for his post-secondary endeavours.

Armstrong was born in Victoria, where his father Gordon was serving in the Navy at CFB Esquimalt. As is the case with many military families, a new city every few years is almost an assumed part of the job. It can make it hard to establish connections, and when Armstrong arrived in Prince Rupert in Grade 4, this was a challenge he had to overcome.

Luckily, Armstrong was already well versed in what many consider to be a global language: soccer. Having played since age five, his parents signed him up for minor soccer. “When I moved here I didn’t really have any friends, I didn’t know anybody. But I started playing soccer right away, and I ended up meeting quite a few friends,” Armstrong explained.

Armstrong has played on a number of teams during his time in Prince Rupert, including three seasons with a club team that made it to high profile tournaments such as provincials and the Slurpee Cup in Kamloops. The team ended up folding, but not to be disheartened, Armstrong joined a newly created Northwest team comprising players from Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat; an all-star type team of the region. They quickly shot up to #4 overall in B.C. in their division.

During this time Armstrong has also featured on the Charles Hays Secondary team, winning a starting role when he was in just his second year. Armstrong fondly recalls the many games and trips to provincials he made with the team, but it was his time under an MLS umbrella that he says has made all the difference.

“I’ve played for Whitecaps academies for about two years now. That’s really one major reason why I was able to make more progress,” Armstrong says.

David Armstrong has been with the Whitecaps Academy for two years, developing his soccer skills to a level where he is being courted by colleges and universities with top tier soccer programs. (David Armstrong photo)

Opportunities such as the Whitecaps academy aren’t readily offered in Prince Rupert, aside from the occasional clinic visit, so Armstrong, (and his parents,) have spent the past two years driving out to Terrace on weekends to take part in the development academy.

“Before I joined Whitecaps academy I definitely wouldn’t say I was a standout soccer player. I was middle of the pack at best,” Armstrong said. “I joined the Whitecaps academy, and one month later the coach told me that he saw potential in me, so he sent me off to my first international tournament in Bellingham.”

READ MORE: MVP of the Week: Barton Hughes

The Baker Blast was just the first international tournament Armstrong would earn his way into, and he has not looked back since. This includes a selection to the Adidas Cup in Seattle as one of the top players in B.C., chosen from a pool of hundreds.

Armstrong credits this experience with developing the full range of skills necessary to succeed in the sport. “Having nationally licenced coaches and UEFA licenced coaches teaching you the way they see the game, that’s what provided me with an advantage for how I can think about the game,” he explained.

“Not a lot of people have that kind of experience or coaching that they know how to properly think about the game of soccer.”

David Armstrong is involved with multiple soccer teams, the debate team, student council, the Interact club, and volunteering around town, to name a few. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Armstrong’s talent on the pitch has not gone unnoticed at the collegiate level. He has been working diligently for months now to sift through offers to attend universities and colleges while playing for the soccer team. Armstrong has yet to make a final decision, but there is no doubt he will make the soccer coach of his chosen school a happy one.

While he is certainly talented in his sport of choice, soccer is far from the only extra-curricular activity Armstrong is involved with. In fact, this year Armstrong developed a club where he and the members look to score very different types of points.

“The group of debaters we have right now, we’ve all been friends for quite a while, and we love to argue about world issues,” Armstrong said about the debate club he worked to form earlier this year.

Armstrong, who is also involved with the local Toastmasters society, solicited the help of Lester Centre general manager Michael Gurney to help develop the team. Gurney is fittingly a debate coach, making for a perfect match.

“I realized we could actually be productive with both our love of arguing and our knowledge of world issues,” Armstrong said. “So one thing led to another and we created this debate club.”

Armstrong says he hopes to stay involved with debating at the post-secondary school of his choice, provided he has the time. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

The team has already been to a tournament in Victoria, with another planned in Vancouver in November. “Once we had our first debate down, we all started to feel a lot more comfortable with our opposition, and we all ranked quite well.”

For the past several months, Armstrong and the team have set the ambitious goal of organizing a 25 hour ‘Speakathon’, to take place over the first weekend in November.

The group has been busy signing up speakers from around town, offering 15-minute time slots to discuss whatever topic they so choose. Armstrong and the team will be occupying slots as well, and in addition will be debating each other at certain points throughout the marathon event.

Armstrong has no doubt the debate club has taught him some valuable life lessons.

“All the debates we do now are impromptu. We have 20 minutes to plan, no cell phones or books. After that you go up and speak for eight minutes. So it really helps your public speaking ability, especially your quick thinking.”

“It’s a really rewarding and fulfilling experience learning how to debate,” Armstrong said.

READ MORE: Talk till you drop: Prince Rupert Speakathon marathon starts today

Armed with his enhanced public speaking skills, this year Armstrong successfully ran for vice-president of the student council at Charles Hays. He is hoping that he can broaden the scope of the council’s attention before his time in high school comes to an end.

“I wanted to make student council more than just planning school events. I want it to be about not only helping our school, but about helping our entire community,” Armstrong explained of his vision.

“I had an idea that we could create committees within student council, and we would have certain ones that would be dedicated to certain school events, so we can give the school quality focus with a smaller group, and we’d have another group dedicated more toward the entire Prince Rupert community,” Armstrong said of his goals.

“We’d have smaller focus groups that could allow for more attention to be drawn to each of these areas.”

Armstrong filled multiple time slots during the Debate Club’s 25-Hour Speakathon. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

In what is perhaps a fitting lesson on the speed at which change can be enacted in politics, (at any level,) Armstrong has found implementing these ideas to be taking some time. Still, he’s optimistic that change is ahead. “We have a lot of great leaders, and a lot of good ideas for our school and our community. So I don’t see any reason why it can’t happen,” Armstrong says.

As if that were not enough, Armstrong is also head of the international projects committee in the Rotary Interact Club, and does volunteer work at the North Pacific Cannery.

He reflects on the balance in his life, as he always seems to be on the go with a new project.

“I’ve mostly gotten used to it,” Armstrong says of his jam packed schedule. “I love keeping myself busy. I do enjoy having a lot of stuff on my plate, it keeps me thinking and keeps me focused. I like the state of mind that I’m in when I do that.”

“It’s nice being able to be a part of a lot of clubs that can help our community.”

Alex Kurial | Journalist
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