Athlete of the Week: Amanda Steel-Coke

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Amanda Steel-Coke plays both midfield and goalkeeper for the Huntsville U18 Girls Strikers soccer team.

She has played since she was very young, both on and off the competitive field, and it’s been an outlet to release any stress for Steel-Coke as she can run and play hard on a team that she enjoys being a part of.

“I love the game,” says Steel-Coke. Her family and friends come to support her and have seen her grow and improve in the sport over the years. She would love to play for her post-secondary school and improve to the best of her ability.

One her most memorable and favourable moments was when the U18 Girls Strikers won their final game of the season in a shoot-out to take the 2018 Cup Champion title. “I had scored a penalty then I went back in net and saved the last shot. The whole team ran at me and we celebrated,” says Steel-Coke. “I have been playing with these people for so long, it was nice to have our last game together end like that.”

Steel-Coke lives in Port Sydney and recently graduated from Huntsville High School and is taking some time off before deciding next steps for school. In addition to being a strong athlete, she is engaged in her community as an activist, and enjoys music and photography.

Strikers Team Manager Deb Smith describes Steel-Coke as being a great role model and a terrific athlete. She says Steel-Coke has an amazing attitude that encourages the team. She never gives up and always shows up ready to play. Smith was not surprised that Coach Carlos Burmeister chose to recognize Steel-Coke as an athlete of the week.

“I have had the pleasure of coaching Amanda since she joined the Huntsville Soccer Club (HSC) Under-12 Girls (U12G) All-Star team,” says Burmeister, adding that she’s not a typical goalkeeper. When her U14 team didn’t have a full-time goalkeeper, a position that any players don’t wish to have—”It’s a very big net at eight feet tall and eight yards wide and comes with the additional pressure of being the last line of defense,” explains Burmeister—Steel-Coke volunteered to play part-time as the goalkeeper.

As the situation continued, she was asked again and again. “‘Part-time’ assumes half the time but it often spilled further,” says Burmeister. “She, rather unenthusiastically agreed (to keep playing in goal). Ultimately, this is her one of her finest attributes—she will put the interest of others, in this case her teammates, before her own.”

Steel-Coke is one of the shorter players on the team, but what she lacks in height, she makes up in agility, anticipation, and tenacity (as a goalkeeper), says Burmeister, as well as being a strong mid field player. “All this makes it difficult from a coach’s view, because you have to ‘rob from Peter to pay Paul’ to field the strongest team.  What was even more difficult was I could see the reluctance in her eyes at the beginning of the games, and feel the anguish at the end of the games if she had let goals past.  You see, when goals are scored against the team, it is often the goaltender who feels the greatest responsibility, whether it is justified or not.”

Despite all this, Steel-Coke embraced the role.”This is another of her attributes, she will own it…wherever you put her on the field, (and whatever you) ask of her during the game,” says Burmeister. “During practices this season, she specifically worked on a few ‘tricks’ on how to improve the goalkeeper’s chances of stopping penalty kicks.”

It would pay off. Coach Burmeiser explains: “Against perennial powerhouse Huronia, away in Barrie for the U18G HDSL Cup Semi-final, the teams were locked at 3-3 at the close of the game forcing a shoot-out.  Amanda drew upon her practiced skills, and added a couple brilliant diving saves in a marathon nine-shot shoot-out to preserve the win, advancing the Strikers to the Finals.

History has an odd way of repeating itself.  At the U18G HDSL Cup Final, against league-leading and heavily favoured SSG (South Simcoe), the Strikers were locked at 3-3 at the close of the game, forcing a shoot-out.  After the first round of five shots, the teams remained in a stalemate forcing a sudden death round of shoot-outs.  Amanda, in her goalkeeping uniform, was the first shooter, and made no mistake to give Huntsville the lead. She then promptly strolled to the goal line to await the SSG shooter, then batted away the must-score shot, and sealed the victory for Huntsville.”

Congratulations to all of the U18 Girls Strikers!

Huntsville U18 Girls Strikers

Huntsville U18 Girls Strikers (supplied photo)

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