Miranda Badovinac, fourth-year captain of the Varsity Blues women’s soccer team, has come a long way to get to the 2020 training season with the Blues. In light of a captaincy made complicated by the cancellation of the 2020 season, The Varsity sat down with Badovinac to learn about her rise to success in soccer, her favourite moments with the Blues, and what this year will look like going forward. 

“I started [playing soccer] when I was probably about three or four,” Badovinac told The Varsity. After choosing to follow in her sisters’ footsteps to play soccer in university, Badovinac rose in the ranks of club soccer, finding success on teams in Burlington, Stoney Creek, and St. Catharines.

After years of success in middle and high school, the midfielder and Burlington native set her sights on bigger things. “It had been a dream for a while to play [Division 1] in the [US]. So, initially, I committed to play soccer at the University of Albany, [and] I played there for two years,” she said. After feeling unfulfilled by the amount of minutes she was playing and wanting a more academically-rigorous environment, she joined the Blues at U of T.

And join, she did: playing all 21 games and scoring 13 goals in the 2019–2020 season, Badovinac made her presence known on the field as one of the Blues’ best assets. But she’s not as focused on individual success as she is on team success: when reflecting on some of her favourite moments with the Blues, she didn’t list individual achievements, but ones that she had with her teammates. 

“Obviously, going to nationals was a really big time for us last year,” Badovinac admitted. “But I think one of the most memorable moments, aside from the bronze medal game… was when we played Queens in the [Ontario University Athletics] quarterfinal last year.” 

“We had lost and tied them prior to playing them in the playoffs… So, playing against them at Queens and beating them 3-0 was such a good feeling for the team, knowing that we were going to progress to the semifinal and continue our chances of actually going to nationals,” Badovinac said. 

“That was a really big turning point in our confidence as a team. I think that it was kind of a defining moment for us, knowing that we are definitely capable of going to nationals.” 

But as Badovinac reflected fondly on her team’s successes together, she and her teammates have had to face a season of uncertainty during COVID-19. “Usually, in a typical week… Mondays, we would have obviously had off, [train all week], and then, we would have games [on] Saturdays and Sundays.”

Because of the pandemic, this schedule looks a bit different. Already modified earlier this semester to reduce sessions and ensure physical distancing measures, the future looks even more uncertain. “There’s been a lot of… ambiguity with what’s happening. Every single week it’s changing, so it’s hard.”

As captain, Badovinac has made it her mission to keep team morale high. “I feel like it’s really hard to get the team motivated to kind of be involved right now,” she admitted, but the team is implementing bonding activities like a Secret Santa to make sure everyone feels included and excited for whatever is to come. 

“This hasn’t really been the most ideal time for anybody. But I think that a really good way of coping with it is to be around your teammates as much as you can,” she said.

Whether through Zoom workouts, online chats, or physically-distanced sessions in the gym, Badovinac makes sure the team knows that they have each other. Looking forward, she has made it a goal to build “that team culture, and [prepare the team] for more of a team dynamic over the next coming months, into next season.”