James Fraser has his soccer mojo back.
The Penticton Tim Hortons Pinnacle forward took a year off from the game after spending a season in Holland with SBV Excelsior Rotterdam’s youth academy, then played one season with the Simon Fraser University Clan in U Sports.
“I was playing everyday. When you play everyday, for almost your whole life, you kind of stop looking at all the positives of soccer,” said Fraser, whose first goal of the season on June 3 was the winner on a penalty shot against the Vancouver Thunderbirds. “It was great for me to take a year off.”
Fraser was vocal on the pitch and has taken it upon himself to be a leader on the Pinnacles with a group of players he has known since his minor soccer days.
“Talking is everything. Communication is key and I just think we are so comfortable together, where I’m able to do that,” he said. “I’m just cheering on my friends.”
Fraser, who has played previously for the Pinnacles, is “pumped” about playing. He is also returning to university level with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. He joins the program as they are set to host the U Sports national championship this fall. Coach John Antulov has been trying to get Fraser into his program for three years.
“He was a player that I was very high on and worked with (Pinnacles FC executive director and head coach) Ezra Cremer to join TRU,” said Antulov. “Unfortunately, at that time he made the decision to join SFU but he was a great kid and a player that I always spoke with. It didn’t work out personally for him at SFU, but we finally were able to make it work here and I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Fraser is described as a dynamic player by his Pinnacles coach Ezra Cremers.
“James certainly is a special player,” Cremers said. “He possesses a high football IQ and has tremendous skills. In my 21 years as a head coach I can honestly say I haven’t dealt with too many players of the quality—both on and off the pitch –of James.
“He is an impact player,” continued Cremers. “He will have very little problem not only cracking the roster at TRU but likely starting. James really benefited by spending some time as a under-19 player with our professional affiliate Excelsor Rotterdam.”
Antulov likes that Fraser is such a coachable player, who will give the WolfPack unlimited diversity with his game and ability to play anywhere in the midfield and is considered an excellent center back. Antulov believes Fraser will make an immediate impact, forming a great partnership with leading scorer Ryan (Glanville).
“James is a very similar player to him in size, technical ability and is a natural goal scorer,” said Antulov. “It will be very difficult for defenses to just focus on closing Ryan down with James working with him up front. This gives us four top-end offensive players with Mitch (Popadynetz) and Justin (Donaldson) and gives us many options going into attack.”