Print Edition: November 27, 2013
Danika Snook’s five years as a key player for UFV’s women’s soccer team came during a period of tremendous change. The team grew into a post-season contender under coach Rob Giesbrecht, a status Snook helped establish. Giesbrecht, at the end of the 2013 season, spoke of Snook as “outstanding in leading the team with her work – her university career ended today, but as always she left everything on the field.” Snook, the scorer of the first goal in UFV women’s soccer playoff history, was there for the team’s run to their Canada West title in 2010, and recalled that moment, among others, in an interview with The Cascade.
Where did you play soccer growing up?
In Chilliwack – I played there since I was five.
Did you notice a change when you came to UFV or was it about the same in terms of expectations?
Definitely higher expectations at UFV. Youth soccer is two practices a week with one game on the weekend, [but] then UFV is every single day in August – you‘re practicing for pre-season. Then during September, October, November, every single day you’re either with your team or practicing or working out.
How did you balance that with schoolwork?
It’s pretty tough. I’ve written a couple exams in airports, one in a hotel room, because you’re constantly travelling. You just cope with it though, because it’s a set schedule, right? And soccer is, if not the first priority, the second under school. You don’t really have much of a social life – you kind of give that up instead of giving up soccer.
What kind of changes did you notice over your career?
My first year, I didn’t know what was going on. I felt kind of lost, because first year there’s a lot of change. There are a lot of expectations and you’re not quite sure how to play at the level yet … it’s a style of play that wasn’t taught to me when I was younger. You’re with more advanced players now. It wasn’t until probably my third or fourth season that I actually felt, “Okay, I’m actually confident now, and I can actually play with the other team and be a good player and bring everything I can bring.”
This last season you didn’t have any goals or assists, but were there parts of your game you were proud of that didn’t show up on the scoresheet?
Well, for the first four seasons I was mainly a striker or a winger, whereas this last season I was a defender for most of the time, which was a great change. Actually, looking back at it I now call myself a defender, which is kind of weird for me, but I loved it.
Had defending always been a strong part of your game, and was the position change made to fit that?
My coach and I were talking, and he thought that it would be a good location for me, because we had quite a few strong strikers and he noticed that I do have a more defensive mindset. So [he] tried me out [as a defender] and worked with me there and decided to keep me there.
Do you have any favourite memories from your career?
Well, it was my second year – I went to nationals with the team. We were the underdogs and both Rob and Al were the new coaches that came in, took our team under their wing, and took us all the way … I remember Al Alderson, our
assistant coach at the time, he was talking about (he was referring to us as horses, like in a horse race) how many horses we had to pass and games to win before we could actually make it to playoffs. And I remember each time he brought that up, we were getting closer and closer, until our last few games where we had to win to make it, and we did. It was just such a great moment where we actually could accomplish something so big and make it all the way through playoffs into nationals and come through.
So you worked with different coaches; some changed over the course of your career?
Yeah, my first season was with Colin Miller. That was part of the reason I came to UFV – Colin Miller is an outstanding coach, world-renowned, and he’s a great player. He left because he had a coaching opportunity – I believe it was with the Whitecaps at that point, which was in the interest of his own career, which was fine. I was pretty devastated at that point. I remember being quite upset. But it turned out really well, because Rob has so much passion. [He’s] coached through—since then until now—the last four years. He brought a ton to the team, a whole different mental aspect.
What are you doing now that your varsity career is over?
I am enjoying some time to myself, I guess? With soccer, there are certain workouts you do. Now I can do other things. I’ve been climbing, I’ve been doing more hikes. I just have more time. I don’t have to worry about cardio as much, which is nice. I’ve been getting some schoolwork done.
You’re finishing up your degree?
Yeah, I’m going to extend it a little bit – I’m not ready to apply for grad school, but I have only a year left maximum. [I’m majoring] in kinesiology, and I probably will finish with a double major in psychology as well.
And with grad school you’d be looking to…?
Do psychology. Kinesiology was more, well, I came to UFV for soccer, so I didn’t really know what I wanted [to study]. Kinesiology was the most relevant to me at the time, so I got into the program, and I still love it, but psychology is the area I will go towards.
Is there anything particular in psychology that interests you?
Throughout soccer actually we’ve had a sports psychologist, or I guess more motivational training and mental aspects of the game from Roger Friesen, [who] teaches here. That interests me a lot, not necessarily just the sport area, but the whole mental side of performing a task. Positive psychology interests me, which is a newer field. I probably want to do research in that area, and most likely end up counselling.
And if you had any advice to give to first-year students, what would that be?
Enjoy it while you can? [Laughs.] I would say it can be so stressful and you don’t realize that it’s actually something you’ve chosen, right? You come to UFV because this is something you’re choosing to do in life, and you should try to enhance that experience rather than struggling through it. It is a struggle and it’s going to be stressful, but try to live with it, you know, and take out what you can that’s good.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.