After a playing career that included four years with the NCAA’s Missouri Tigers and appearances for the Canadian senior women’s national team, Alysha Bonnick returned to coach with her father Winston at the Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club.
“It’s like a big, happy family to be with Hotspurs,” says Bonnick, an assistant coach for the Hotspurs Ontario Player Development League under-13 girls. “It’s a smaller coaching staff that gets along, there’s chemistry. Some of these coaches have been together for ages. They’ve formed those long-lasting relationships with each other.
“It’s the same for the players. It rubs off on them, too.”
The daughter of a Jamaican-born father and Trinidadian mother, soccer was always in Bonnick’s blood.
“(My dad) helped me get into soccer,” recounts the North Gower resident who learned the game with a number of clubs in Eastern Ontario. “It was such a passion. He started coaching when I was really young.”
Part of Canadian youth national team programs, Bonnick went on to play for the University of Missouri Tigers and twice appeared for the Canadian senior women’s side in 2010, which she calls the highlight of her playing career.
“You can’t even imagine how proud I was and humbled I was to put that jersey on, and how proud I was making my family,” reflects Bonnick.
After her NCAA career with Mizzou was complete, Bonnick returned home, and family – both in the figurative and literal sense – drew her to coaching.
Bonnick’s father, Winston, had been coaching soccer since she was young, and was still at it years later with the Hotspurs.
“I’d always watch him coach,” recalls the 26-year-old. “When I came back, I wanted to coach with him.”
Bonnick was glad to join a club known for its leadership in coaching excellence, and home to several past Team Canada players as well – most notably long-time women’s national team captain Charmaine Hooper (who is second in all-time caps behind Christine Sinclair and has the Hotspurs’ main home fields named after her).
Bonnick now enjoys the chance to work with the next generation of young girls seeking to play for Canada, and senses their enthusiasm will only build further with the FIFA Women’s World Cup in town this June and July.
“Growing up, it’s always your dream as a soccer player that plays in Canada, to represent your country and wear that jersey,” Bonnick highlights. “I know some of our players are excited to go to a few of the games and see the national teams play.”
Having the World Cup on home soil, with living legends in front of them, serves as a reminder for the young budding stars that playing for a national team could happen for them, like it did for their coach.
Bonnick’s future aspirations are now a little simpler than playing for Canada. She wants to one day be on the sidelines alongside her father who helped get her into soccer and coaching.
“We’re not coaching together (on the same team) right now,” Bonnick indicates. “But that’s our goal for the future.”