August 19, 2019… (WELLAND, ON) – As the Niagara College Knights Women's soccer program gears up for a new season, head coach Rob Lalama received a phone call a few weeks ago that had been two years in the making.
Former Denmark junior National team member Wiktoria (Vicky) Keller first contacted Lalama back in 2017, while attending Niagara for General Business, expressing interest in to practicing with the Knights women's program.
"She contacted me and asked if she would be able to practice with the team and I said yes," says Lalama.
"She immediately clicked with all the players and the staff. As soon as training began, it was clear that she was a talented player. From there the relationship with her and the team grew."
Keller returned home to Roskilde, Denmark after the school year, but continued to keep in contact with Lalama about future visits to Welland for team practices and attending sessions where she could. Keller and Lalama began to have serious conversations about Keller returning to the college as a full-time student.
Those conversations turned into a reality this summer with Keller now enrolled full-time this fall in the General Business program.
While Lalama is ecstatic to have a calibre of player like Keller join his squad, he credits Joanne Maltby from the Niagara College International Department for making this come together.
"This is a prime example of how important it is to continue to build strong relationships with different departments on campus," says Lalama. "Whether it's faculty, recruitment, or in this case international, these relationships help ease the process in bringing in new student-athletes every year, and I'd like to thank Joanne for her work with Vicky."
Keller comes to the Knights as a Denmark Jr. National team midfielder since 2010. In 2011 and 2012 Keller received Player of the Year accolades, adding to her already impressive collection of hardware, including Denmark's Championship trophy in 2017 and the European National Championship trophy in 2018.
Lalama knows the addition of Kellar can bring his team closer to the ultimate goal of an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship. After finishing just shy of the medal rounds last season, Lalama is anxious to get back to the OCAA Championship this year.
"We're excited to add Vicky to our line up. Her addition is another step forward in building this program into a Provincial and National Champion. I believe Vicky will be a dominant player in the OCAA."
Keller will suit up for the Knights as they kick-off their first game of exhibition action Wednesday evening against George Brown College. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. at Youngs Sportsplex, followed by the men at 8:00 pm.
For the Knights full schedule, please visit goknights.ca