by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
It was the morning of Saturday, December 16, 2017 that Bridget and Zara Chambers were in a car accident south of Fort McMurray.
According to Wood Buffalo RCMP, the Honda Civic in which the girls were traveling in, rear-ended a parked flatbed tow truck at approximately 95 kilometres south of Fort McMurray on Highway #63 near Mariana Lake.
Zara, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the scene while Bridget later expired at an Edmonton-area hospital due to injuries received.
In their second year as student/athletes at Keyano College, the Chambers' sisters were an integral part of the 2017-2018 women's soccer team which showcased the best performance by the Huskies since entering the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) women's soccer ranks in 2002-2003.
They were also integral members of the futsal team.
The tragedy hit hard.
It impacted the Keyano Huskies community, Fort McMurray, their home town of Rocky Mountain House, friends and family along with the soccer community.
It also affected those who did not know the sisters.
Young women that were known for their smiles and outgoing personalities.
Born November 11, 1998 and died December 16, 2017, a funeral for Bridget Miriam Chambers and Zara Lee Chambers was held December 29, 2017 in their hometown with more than 60 Huskies students and staff attending.
The Keyano Huskies women's futsal team would regroup emotionally and physically and enter their first ACAC futsal tournament of the season February 17-18, 2018 in Olds winning silver.
Their scores would be: Keyano 3 Kings University Eagles 1; Keyano 3, Olds College Broncos 0; Keyano 5, Lethbridge College Kodiaks 3 and Keyano 2, Medicine Hat College Rattlers 5.
In attendance were the Chambers family, including Bridget and Zara's triplet sister Grace, who made the trip to cheer on the Huskies and to be part of their daughter's legacy as it lives on in the Huskies family.
"Going into the tournament, with the situation that happened, they had something bigger than themselves to play for," said Huskies head coach Murad Sukru. "We took something that was tragic and used it for strength. Not only did they compete, but they dominated most of their games."
Of their upcoming participation at the 2018 ACAC Futsal Championships at Servus Plus Centre and Lakeland College, which starts Friday: "Medicine Hat is the team to beat. They are a well-coached team. Our girls will be motivated."
The sport of futsal kicked its way into the ACAC in 2010-2011 with six schools participating.
During this seven-year run, the two dominant schools have been the Keyano College Huskies, claiming four men's banners, while the Medicine Hat Rattlers have scored five women's banners.
The Rattlers are the only school to win both men's and women's title in the same year and that was last year at Ambrose College in Calgary, Alberta.
This year, the respective ACAC eight futsal teams have had various schedules, be they exhibition or league play.
For example, the Rattler's men's team played eight games winning five and losing three, outscoring their opponents 41-31.
Huskies men's futsal meanwhile, played only three contests, winning two.
How will that come into play, if any, when the teams kickoff Friday?
"We are in Fort McMurray, so it is tough for teams to come here," said Huskies head coach Sukru. "Instead we have had some inter squad games amongst ourselves and played some men's teams that are very talented."
Talent is something that the Huskies are not short of, despite having only a seven-man roster.
They are led by fifth-year players Pedro Bianchi and Rodrigo Wogel Koebsch .
The two native Brazilians are back-to-back ACAC Futsal First Team All-Conference selections with Bianchi the Futsal Male Player of the Year in 2014-2015.
Huskies, three-time defending champion in ACAC men's soccer, will also look to local product Matthew Carreiro and Eduardo Filho from Paracatu, Brazil.
Rounding out the roster are rookies Gabriel Koebsch , Joseph Lambele and Cruz Coronel, who will be playing goal.
"Yes we have a short bench," eluded Sukru, to the sport which requires five players on the field at a time. "But I get the best out of my players when they are in the game longer than usual. It keeps the flow going and the momentum.
"We have been focusing a lot on tactics and working together. We know it is going to be tough and we have to get through it one game at a time.
"Most teams will have larger rosters where they like to rotate every two minutes."
Of the defending men's champion Rattlers?
"Medicine Hat is a very strong and well-organized team. We have the knowledgeable and the experienced players."
Rattlers head coach Travis Hyde expects his defending men's and women's teams to do well.
"From our starting team last year we have lost three guys but the strength will be similar to last year. We have the same chemistry."
Of the Huskies men's side, he said. "We will carry 13 but dressing 12 and they are very good with their seven players. But I do not know how they will do fitness wise as the games go on."
The Rattlers women's roster will have 17 players.
"The luxury with the women is that we have a lot of experience on the team to go along with young players who are willing to learn and work hard. It is a good chemistry."
Of the players not dressing for games, which have a 12-player limit?
"They will have to sit in the stands to watch but they are encouraged to give feedback on the games and are included in all postgame debriefs. A lot of times the girls will be picked up due to injuries, so it is crucial that they stay focused in case they are called on to come in."
Other teams partaking in the tournament are the Ambrose Lions, Lakeland Rustlers, Lethbridge Kodiaks, Olds Broncos, Kings Eagles and University of Alberta Augustana Vikings.
ACAC Men's Futsal Championship http://www.acac.ab.ca/tournament/mfutsal/2017-18/index
ACAC Women's Futsal Championship http://www.acac.ab.ca/tournament/wfutsal/2017-18/index