Volume 93, Issue 37

Thursday, November 4, 1999


Kitching a lifer for her sport

Getting physical and pumped up

Rowing to the nationals

Squashing the competition

Griffey Jr. leads hard existence

Kitching a lifer for her sport

By Michael Murphy
Gazette Staff

Having devoted the last 11 years of her life to Western's women's soccer program, Sherri Kitching could be forgiven if her interest in the sport was beginning to wane. However, Kitching's love of soccer is still very much alive – and kickin.'

Now in her fourth year as head coach of the women's team, Kitching said her Mustang career began as a player. After five years on the field and a two year stint as an assistant coach, she took over the top job.

Born in Guelph, Kitching spent her youth developing fancy feet both as a soccer player and a dancer. "I was involved in tap and jazz dancing from age four. I also played on a boy's soccer team in

Grades 5 and 6 since there were no girls' programs. After that, I played on girls' recreational teams and then all-star teams," she said.

While soccer played a big part in her formative years, Kitching pursued other interests as well. "I've played soccer all my life. In high school I also played basketball, volleyball and participated in track [and field]. Aside from that I was also involved in theatre."

Artistic endeavours such as drama continue to hold an appeal for Kitching. "I really enjoy creative pursuits like choreographing dance, so if I wasn't coaching women's soccer, I would probably use the free time to be more involved in community theatre."

While she may not have time for dance numbers these days, she does have ample opportunities to choreograph the movements of Western's athletes.

When asked how she has developed her coaching style, Kitching attributed most of the credit to those who have coached her. "Through my experience in leadership roles growing up and with all the influences my coaches have had on me over the years, I think I've become the coach I am now. Rock Basacco, the men's coach, has been a real mentor to me. He's always a good sounding board."

While Kitching said coaching at the university level is rewarding, she acknowledged it can be difficult. "The most challenging part is making sure you keep developing strategies to keep your athletes motivated, pushing them to be their best. It's tough keeping them intense the entire season," she said.

Sustaining the intensity of her passion for the sport itself doesn't seem too hard for Kitching, though she did concede it's not the easiest game to appreciate.

"I like the variability of soccer. It's not a predictable game. It's a thinking person's game. I also love the team concept and the physical fitness aspect. Soccer is a sport, I think, that people will either love or not like at all," she said. "You won't get too many mediocre soccer fans. It's a complicated game so you have to learn a bit about it before you'll enjoy it."

Although her long career at Western has had many high points, Kitching said the provincial championships she's won stand out in her mind as especially memorable moments. "In my first year as a player, we won provincials and that was pretty memorable. Even more exciting though was winning last year's provincials as coach. That was a real adrenaline high."

A public school teacher by day, Kitching splits her instructional time between two very different kinds of students. "I have a diverse day," she said. "I work with Grade 2 kids during the day and then varsity athletes at night."

While she traded in her uniform and cleats for a clipboard and whistle, Kitching said she is still an avid athlete in her own right. "I've been playing indoor soccer. I also enjoy golf, running and squash. Having played sports all my life, I find I'm always looking for competitive challenges."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999