ACAC Futsal Championships Preview

Photo by Daniel Yu
Photo by Daniel Yu

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

The 2018-2019 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Futsal Championships are to be held March 15-17, 2019 at Val Matteotti Gymnasium in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Hosted by Lethbridge College Kodiaks, a total of 18 men's and women's teams will be lacing them up.

With that in mind, we talked to two participants, Ambrose University Lions' Rachel Wolf and Medicine Hat Rattlers' Connor Ismond.

Since entering ACAC women's futsal, the Ambrose University Lions have captured a medal only once and that was in 2014-2015 by beating the Keyano Huskies 3-1.

The bronze medal game match is no stranger for the Lions, they had been in it on four more occasions, settling for fourth place after loses to 2011-2012, Keyano 2-1; 2014-2015, Keyano 3-1; 2015-2016, Lakeland 1-0 and 2016-2017 losing to Lakeland 3-1.

Lion's 5th-year veteran Rachel Wolf is the only remaining player from that 2014-2015 bronze medal squad.

"Yeah we got a lot of fourth place finishes to go along with that," recalled the 5-foot-5 Wolf, a native of Brooks Alberta.

With the sport of basketball her main passion while attending Brooks Composite High School, Wolf, 24, decided to concentrate solely on studies when enrolling at Ambrose University.

"I actually decided to step away from sports just because I had played them my whole life," said Wolf. "I wanted to create an identity that wasn't sport specific."

"But I am a busy person and I like to keep busy and I felt that I needed to do something more than studying. I needed to fill up my time, so my mom suggested I try out for one of the (Lions) sports teams."

"Basketball and volleyball already had their teams but then I saw a poster for futsal tryouts. I showed up for the tryouts and myself and another girl were the only freshman to make the team."

"I had played some soccer when I was really young, so it was new but I fell in love with it very quickly and felt that it was very similar to basketball. They intertwined a lot and so it was easy to catch on with futsal."

Of her approach to the sport,she said: "For myself, I like to keep the mood light and I enjoy what I am doing and having fun at the same time. Keeping it positive is huge for me. Not putting on those stresses of sports like 'You have to get that goal.'"

It was in 2016-2017 that the Medicine Hat Rattlers broke the stranglehold that the Keyano Huskies had had on the ACAC men's futsal banner.

The Huskies from Fort McMurray, Alberta had won four consecutive occasion from 2012-2016 before returning to the gold podium last year 2017-2018.

The Rattlers have been more accustomed in the past to bronze medal status with that achieved four times 2012-2015 and 2017-2018. Silver was kicked in for 2015-2016.

Connor Ismond, Medicine Hat College Rattlers

Connor Ismond from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was on that Rattlers team that defeated the Keyano Huskies in 2016-2017.

"It was pretty awesome," recalls Ismond. "It was my rookie year and my first time really playing competitive futsal at this level. It was nice to beat Keyano (7-1 final) because they were such a powerhouse."

An all-around athlete at Astra High Performance Academy Marion M. Graham Collegiate - playing football, soccer, track and wrestling - Ismond said playing a wide-variety of sports helped him with the transition to futsal.

"For futsal I relied on creating space with the football techniques I used running routes when I was a wide receiver. But to be honest, it was difficult at first as I relied on being physical and on my speed. I had to learn about the movement patterns and being able to create space in a smaller area."

While also dabbling in wake boarding and snowboarding, Ismond has paid his dues with various injuries over the years.

"Let's see. I broke both arms and dislocated both shoulders and broke all of my fingers."

Ismond plans to become a firefighter.

"I really enjoy helping people and I think I would do very well as a firefighter. Hopefully, one day, I can say that I saved some peoples lives and that would be worthwhile."

The Rattlers are the only school to win both men's and women's title in the same year and that in 2016-2017 at Ambrose in Calgary, Alberta.