Lord Dorchester student will be studying physical health education
and playing university soccer for the Lady Lakers
January 13, 2022
By Rob. J. Ross
DORCHESTER, Ont. - Annika Nolte was looking for a change of scenery without being too far from her hometown.
The Grade 12 student at Lord Dorchester Secondary school found what she was looking for at Nipissing University, in North Bay. Nolte accepted an athletic scholarship, studying physical health and education starting this autumn and playing soccer.
"I wanted to change up the scenery and feel more independent. It's far away, but it's not too far that I can't come home and still have access to coming home. It's far enough for me to feel that I'm on my own," said Nolte, who carries a 92 per cent average.
"Nipissing is a smaller school and I'll do better in a smaller school, especially coming from Dorchester. The one on one relationship I'll be able to have with the teacher is really nice."
Nolte joins a Nipissing Lakers' women's soccer team that was 9-2-1 overall this past fall.
"Soccer wise, I felt the coaches were great and really cared about their players," Nolte said. "They really cared about having me on the team. I met the team and they were very welcoming. It felt like the right fit for me."
A striker and mid-fielder for Alliance FC in club action, Nolte also plays soccer at Dorchester, although she's only had her Grade nine year.
In 2019, the Beavers won the WOSSAA 1-A title, qualifying the team for OFSAA, where they compiled a record of three wins, two ties and two losses. Dorchester lost their semifinal 2-1, to Cornwall La Citadele, in overtime, before being edged, 2-1, by Ottawa Louis Riel, in the bronze medal match.
"My biggest highlight is the soccer team being fourth at OFSAA," Nolte said. "I'll always remember that because OFSAA is a big deal. For a small school to come fourth is pretty good."
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 and 2021 high school seasons and greatly affected the club seasons with Alliance.
"It's been really hard," Nolte admits. "I've been with that group of girls for almost nine years now. They're pretty much my family. So going from seeing them four times a week, to not seeing them at all, kind of sucked."
When soccer wasn't being played due to the pandemic, Alliance managed with zoom meetings, working on game skills and many days of simply social interaction.
"There would be days when we would just sit and talk and socialize with each other. That really helped us connect as a team more and still keep that chemistry we had before."
The pandemic has made it difficult for athletes to showcase themselves for universities, with few games for highlights on video.
"It has been more difficult to be seen by coaches, but my coach put together a bunch of zoom meetings with university coaches to talk about their universities and learn about their soccer programs and get a look at us."
Similar challenges are occurring in the classroom.
"Most of my schooling has been online, but I do have my Grade nine," said Nolte. "Academic wise I'd rather learn face to face. Online, you feel a little bit alone at times doing the work by yourself. But having the zoom meetings with the teachers and being able to see your classmates is really nice and helps me get through the classes."
Family and teammates have been most influential on the Dorchester native.
"A no-brainer is my family. They're there to support me. My dad (Andreas) is the coach of my soccer team and my mom (Tanya) is the manager. Having parents clearly involved in my life and who will always push me to do my best, academics or athletics, anything in life, always encouraging in anything I do, is nice to have."
Annika has an older brother, Jaxon, who attends Windsor University and younger sister, Bella, who is in Grade 10.
Her Alliance teammates are her soccer family.
"I refer to them as my sisters. I can count on them for anything I need and know that they'll always have my back."
Annika is hopeful for a high school soccer season this spring, for another shot at qualifying for OFSAA, and to have the opportunity to play alongside her sister, Bella.
It would a lasting memory before Annika heads north.