Carly Branion-Calles didn’t so much choose soccer as it chose her. “I had a few older brothers and cousins who I used to play with,” she says. “They were all about two years older than me so I would go run around with them in the back yard kicking a ball. I guess I just kept doing that.”
Growing up and going to school in Richmond, B.C., Branion-Calles was recruited in high school by Vikes coach Tracy David. When she was in soccer a tournament in grade 10, David had the opportunity to see her play and decided to recruit her for the Vikes there and then. “I didn’t think much about it at the time,” Branion-Calles says. “Once I got closer to graduation she really wanted me on the team. I really liked UVic and the girls so I made a decision really early on.”
Currently in her fifth year of a kinesiology degree, Branion-Calles keeps busy juggling school and early morning practice, as well as two volunteer positions: one with a seniors exercise group at Gordon Head Recreation Centre and another with the Walk and Talk group at Gorge Road Hospital. Though some might find career-related volunteer positions tedious, Branion-Calles says that working with her seniors groups is one of the best parts of her week. “I really do like seniors,” she says.
Hoping to get into the physiotherapy program at UBC, Branion-Calles seems genuinely passionate about her long-term academic plan. Between her degree, her volunteer positions, and her passion for soccer, most of her life seems to revolve around movement and activity.
This season, Branion-Calles has enjoyed personal success on a powerful Vikes squad. In a match against UBC Okanagan on Sept. 19, she won the game for UVic after scoring the only goal. When asked about her game-winning goal, Branion-Calles stressed the importance of the team’s effort, rather than her individual success.
“We had a slow start against UBCO. It wasn’t the best 24 minutes we’ve ever played,” said Branion-Calles. “Playing on turf, we were getting hot and couldn’t connect easily. After half-time though we knew we needed to change so we picked up the pace and I scored my first goal of the season.”
Unfortunately, once she is done at UVic, it might also mark the end of Branion-Calles’ soccer career. With fewer options for women after varsity, she says that she will continue to play in the highest league that she can, though it doesn’t seem like the national team is an option for her. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I can play for the national team. I got five seasons in and that’s alright for me.”
With so much going on, it would seem as though staying motivated could be a challenge. For Branion-Calles, she says it’s the love of the fantastic game and the feeling of being on the field that drives her passion while being immersed in a challenging, hectic, but ultimately fulfilling final year at UVic.