The Gee-Gees women's soccer team is proud to announce their first recruit for the 2019 season with the commitment of Rebecca LeBlanc. The Sydney, NS defender joins the Gee-Gees after years of playing high-level youth soccer at the club and provincial level.
LeBlanc started her soccer career at a young age on Cape Breton Island, once she got to U13, she began playing at the provincial team level. Last year, she moved a level higher to REX, which is a collection of the best players from the Atlantic Provinces and one step further as she joined the IGNITE program of high performance soccer athletes in hopes of making the Canada Games team. LeBlanc was ultimately selected to represent Nova Scotia on the Canada Games roster in Summer 2017, where her team finished with a bronze medal.
Like many of her teammates and peers, LeBlanc originally had her sights set on playing Division I soccer, but eventually decided on staying in Canada. Last year, she met Gee-Gees head scout Mark Fowler at a recruiting showcase in Vancouver and stayed in-touch until decided to come for a visit.
"After my visit, I was 90 per cent sure I wanted to come," said LeBlanc. "As soon as I got to Ottawa, I got to meet the team, I loved the coaches and the players, and I really loved the school."
LeBlanc cited that her only holdback was the culture shift from Cape Breton Island to the Nation's Capital. Eventually her concerns passed and she decided she was ready to attack big-city life and become a Gee-Gee.
"I was following the team through nationals and it was awesome when they won it," she said. "The coaching staff told me I was the first recruit for 2019 and I was super excited, I hope that I can have the same type of experience going to and hopefully winning a national championship in my time there." As the first committed recruit to the defending national champion, LeBlanc understands the unique situation she is walking into. Understanding the legacy of joining one of the most successful programs Canada over the past 20-plus years, she is ready to take the next step in her soccer career.
A connecting element between LeBlanc and the Gee-Gees program is in former Soccer Nova Scotia technical director Graham Chandler, who was one of head coach Steve Johnson's assistant coaches on the National Championship winning 1996 Gee-Gees team. Chandler coached LeBlanc in the provincial system and recommended her to the University of Ottawa with glowing regards.
"I have known her since she was in U12, and she's a fantastic kid," he said. "Just a super personality. I'm not sure I could give a higher opinion or rating than what I have for Rebecca."
Johnson is excited to welcome LeBlanc to the roster, as a fellow Nova Scotian, he is keenly aware of the quality of player he is receiving from their provincial system.
"We are really excited to have a player of Rebecca's quality join our program," said Johnson.
"She's been highlighted by Mark Fowler when he first saw her in Vancouver and again when I was looking for additional background information from her provincial technical director in Nova Scotia. I got to see her in person for the first time when she visited in the fall, and I was very impressed with her personality. I think she's going to be a big player for us."
For her first year in Garnet and Grey, LeBlanc will have the opportunity to play alongside fellow Nova Scotian standout in U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian Katherine Bearne, who will be in her fifth and final year with the Gee-Gees.
Academically, LeBlanc is planning on attending the Telfer School of Management to pursue an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing.