- BC Games
Stokes standing tall on UVic soccer pitch
The University of Victoria Vikes are in the throws of putting the final touches on a preseason exhibition tilt with the Vancouver Whitecaps next fall in the capital city.
It’s a match that could be the break at least a few of the Vikes have been hoping for—among them Richmond youth product Cameron Stokes.
“I always knew he could play at the university level, but he’s opened a lot of eyes here this year,” said Vikes’ head coach Bruce Wilson.
That’s high praise coming from an individual as respected as Wilson, whose resume includes captaining Canada’s lone World Cup appearance in 1986 and six all-star nods in the old North American Soccer League.
“I watched him play a number of times, even before he indicated his interest in coming to Victoria, and was always impressed every time,” said Wilson.
Wilson likes a lot about Stokes, including that “he has a good head on his shoulders and came fit and ready to go” this season, his second at the University of Victoria after two seasons with the Langara Falcons. But the fact he’s scored seven goals in eight games (second best in the Canada West Conference of the Canadian Interuniversity Sports men’s soccer league) has others taking notice too.
“He’s been absolutely our best player this year,” said Wilson, who moved him from a wide position to a sort of tracking midfielder. “He’s very good in the air, fast and skillful on the ball and immediately gravitated to it.”
Stokes, 21, is enjoying the moment but determined to keep his feet firmly planted.
“Scoring goals is what I’m supposed to do in my position, but this run certainly gives me a bunch of confidence,” he said. “Being surrounded by talent I’m playing with also makes it a lot easier.”
Already twice this season honoured as Canada West player of the week, Stokes notes he played centre-midfield in both of his seasons at Langara. And when his younger brother Mitchell, now at Langara, scored in one of his first couple of games this year he was quick to let Cameron know about it.
Besides being part of a talented team that is currently ranked 10th in the nation, Stokes also credits the influence of Wilson for his growing success.
“He’s awesome and definitely knows what he’s talking about,” Stokes said. “And as one of the most decorated players in Canadian soccer history you want to listen to what he has to say.”
Stokes also has high marks for his former youth coaches, a list that includes Doug Long, Mike Quinn and John Gattens. Another former coach, albeit only for a season, is reserved for his dad Andy who along with him mom seldom miss one of his games—home or away.
“It’s very comforting knowing they’re in the stands and it motivates me that much more,” he said. “And if I’m not doing so well, I’ll look over and see my dad and think ‘lift your chin up and keep playing.’”