Savanah VanHooft has a game-day routine.
It starts with a plate of scrambled eggs and a banana. And en route to the soccer field she pumps tunes through her headphones.
What kind of music gets the 14-year-old Sarnia Spirit striker ready to play?
“Not clean stuff,” says mom Genny VanHooft.
“There’s not a lot of clean songs nowadays,” retorts Savanah. “Welcome to 2018!”
Whatever her routine, the results are most impressive. The 9th grader at St. Patrick’s High School has been making her mark on the soccer pitch.
She led the U14 Western Region Soccer League this past season in scoring. Her 13 goals placed her well ahead of the pack in the seven-team league and came at a better than goal-a-game clip.
She also won the scoring title in the winter indoor league.
The year before, her strong play helped the Sarnia Spirit dominate the Elgin Middlesex Soccer District League, so much so the team was catapulting up a division this past season.
But soccer is a team game, she is quick to point out.
“I couldn’t do anything without my teammates. We work very well together,” she said.
VanHooft has always been an athlete and played basketball and volleyball in elementary school. She settled on soccer in Grade 6.
“It’s been my favourite sport. Soccer is my number one,” she said, noting she enjoys the athletics as well as the socializing and travel – things her whole family can participate in.
This past season VanHooft had two practices and two games per week, visiting opponents as far away as Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. One highlight was hosting the Ontario Cup in Sarnia, she said.
The Spirit didn’t win the championship but did make it to the semi-finals, sending a message to the rest of the province that Sarnia means business.
“Our first game against Bradford was probably one of the best games of the year. It was fun to play… we worked as a team,” VanHooft said. “That whole tournament was good.”
She and a couple of friends from the Spirit have also joined the junior soccer squad at St. Pat’s, whose season is just getting under way.
Her goal this year is to build strength and endurance, but she doesn’t expect the Spirit will revamp its strategy much next season.
“We know what our jobs are,” she said with a smile.