Star scorer 'a real handful' says Spartans coach
Daniela Gerig could have very well gone to another school and been that team’s undisputed star.
All throughout youth soccer, Gerig had shown a gift for scoring goals on the pitch.
While confident in her abilities, she arrived on the campus at Trinity Western University with no promise of just how much playing time she would receive for one of the top women’s soccer programs in Canada.
“I was excited, I thought I would get lots of playing time,” Gerig admitted about arriving at the school after graduating from Walnut Grove Secondary in 2007.
She started seven of the team’s 16 games that first year and scored three times.
And Gerig knew she would have to work for her playing time, so she just kept working hard in practice and listening to the coaches.
“From those pointers and practising those things, I think I really grew into what the coaches wanted me to be up front,” she said.
What she grew into was a dominating force up front, who graduates from the program with her name among the school record books.
There was the game against Regina in 2008 when Gerig scored five times, setting a Spartans single-game mark.
She also tied the season record with 14 goals that year.
And Gerig finished her five-year Spartan career with 45 goals, which puts her second all-time.
“She went from being a raw — certainly a talented player — but I think she became a very refined, dangerous player because of her work ethic, because of her ability to score timely goals, because of her strength as a forward,” said coach Graham Roxburgh.
“She was a handful.
“The greatest compliment you can receive is when other university coaches talk about you being the (player) their team has to key on.”
Gerig’s success was a result of her hard work, her discipline and her commitment.
“At other programs, Daniela would have been the type of player who never left the field because she was their go-to forward,” Roxburgh said.
“She was one of our go-to forwards, but we bought into the team-first mentality, and that meant she wasn’t always in the limelight and wasn’t always getting the minutes she deserved.
“She accepted her role and did it to the utmost.”
Gerig also helped the Spartans win back-to-back CIS national championships in 2008 and 2009, winning most valuable player honours that first year.
“That performance typified her characteristics as a player,” Roxburgh said. “She won it because she scored crucial goals (but) she played relentlessly, her work ethic was second to none and she just gave everything for her team to be successful.”
Gerig earned one more honour earlier this month when she was named as one of the four winners of the prestigious Spartans Complete Champion Award. Other recipients were teammate Melissa Mobilio and men’s volleyball players Ben Ball and Marc Howatson.
The award is presented to graduating student-athletes who exemplify strength and growth in the five key components of the Complete Champion Approach: academic, athletic, leadership, personal and spiritual development.
“It was a real privilege to win; I am just thankful for that and what (the award) means,” Gerig said.
“I feel like I have matured into the senior athlete I have wanted to become.”
Gerig has mixed emotions with her time at university over.
“There is a lot I will miss and I wish I could go back,” she said. “But at the same time, there is a lot to look forward to in the future.”
She graduates this spring, having done her bachelor of arts in human kinetics with a minor in psychology.
Gerig will likely play this summer for the Fraser Valley Action, a team which consists largely of former and current Spartan players. She is also contemplating taking up another sport as well, perhaps ball hockey or badminton, just for a change.