The University of Ottawa will host the 2018 U SPORTS women's soccer national championship November 8-11. The Gee-Gees have appeared in 13 national championship tournaments in the program's 25-year history, earning nine medals and cementing a tradition of success. Ahead of the 2018 U SPORTS championship, a group of Gee-Gees alumni reflect on their experiences at nationals, and what a home championship will mean for the program.
This week's alumni profile comes from Danielle Day who wore the Garnet and Grey from 1999-2001. Named to the All-Canadian team in 2001 and a member of Canada's FISU team that same year, Day helped the Gee-Gees capture a pair of OUA Championships in 1999 and 2000, appearing in three national championship tournaments. The striker from Montreal studied human kinetics and later played two seasons at McGill, where she was recently inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.
"Playing university soccer was my biggest motivator to go to university. Going to Nationals was always a must and I always looked forward to going. I was fortunate in that my three years playing for Ottawa we went to Nationals."
1999 – It was my rookie season, we had a solid team, I thought for sure we would win. We had an unfortunate incident in which our goalie got red carded in the opening game. Let's just say it was devastating. The mood of that nationals was not the greatest.
2000 – Again we had a great team, had an undefeated season. We made it to the final against Dalhousie. Travelling to Nova Scotia was fun, I had never been before. I loved the bond you have with your team. Other than the loss in the final it was a great Nationals.
2001 – This was a rebuilding year. A lot of rookies came in that year. We weren't expected to go as far as the previous year but to everyone's surprise, we had great team chemistry. We came together and made Nationals (which was at Carleton). The highlight for me was beating Dalhousie in the round robin. And finishing the tournament with a bronze after defeating Queen's.
For me the season would have been incomplete if we didn't go to Nationals. Being with your team, competing in the biggest part of the season, basically achieving your season's goal. The season is great but being at Nationals is that much better. All your hard work, practice, commitment is put to the test.
I was very happy for the team when I heard Ottawa was hosting. There's something even more special when you have home advantage. We had a taste of that in 2001 when Carleton was hosting. I think it was a great motivator for a young team.
My parents came to every Nationals even the one in Nova Scotia. At Carleton, I was fortunate to have my friends and boyfriend (now husband) from Montreal come cheer us on.
How much would it have meant to you to compete at national championship in Ottawa?
It would have been great. From my experience playing the nationals at Carleton, we had a lot of support, but being on our own field, in our own dressing room would have been that much more special.
What makes Ottawa an ideal place to host the national championship?
It's a great city. There is a lot to see so for out-of-town teams they get to travel a bit and see more of our country. In terms of the facilities and Gee-Gee support I think it will be very successful.