Anne Yeomans is a third-year chemical engineering student at U of T and plays as a forward for the Varsity Blues women’s soccer team. She’s pretty good, too — in her rookie year with the team, Yeomans was a starting player for almost every match. She sat down with The Varsity to talk about the beginnings of her soccer career, what it’s been like to play for the Blues, and what her plans are for this season and post-U of T.
Ringette or soccer?
Yeomans played virtually every single sport made available to her in high school, including ringette, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, and of course, soccer. Yet, it wasn’t until she came close to finishing high school that she had to pick a sport to commit to and carry on with into university.
The decision was difficult — at that point, Yeomans was torn between ringette and soccer. Ultimately, the decision was influenced by the fact that there weren’t many universities that offered ringette as an intercollegiate sports program and she found more success playing soccer. “More coaches [were] reaching out for [soccer],” she explained.
Becoming a Varsity Blue
Yeomans was introduced to almost an entirely different version of soccer in 2021 when she met Angelo Cavalluzzo, the associate head coach of the Blues women’s soccer team. She explained that in her experience, many teams sort of just “dump and run,” which means that they don’t put much thought into where the ball is going. Yet, Cavalluzzo was very focused on strategy and teaching the players to adapt to every move by the opposition so that they could “change the game” and allow it to continue in their favour.
That year, the team made it to the Ontario University Athletics quarterfinal, playing against the Western University Mustangs. Despite their devastating loss, it’s a game that remains one of the highlights of Yeomans’ time on the team. Why? Because so many people had showed up to watch them play.
I’ve got a pretty good view of Varsity Centre from where I live, so I’ll almost always know when there’s a soccer game happening. I’ll also likely be able to identify if it’s the men’s or the women’s soccer team that’s playing; while both teams are very talented and play at a very high level, the women’s team usually generates a smaller audience than the men’s team does.
As a result, the giant audience at the Mustangs game wasn’t something Yeomans was used to, so it was all very dreamlike for her. A good audience, Yeomans explained, “always makes a big difference in the game”; they bring a certain type of energy that “makes you kind of play harder” and gives each pass, each goal, a more gratifying feel.
The season ahead
This year, there are more rookies on the team roster than usual, which has changed the team’s dynamic. Therefore, Yeomans is looking forward to getting to know the newer players better and strengthening the dynamic between them, “Because that has always been [the team’s] biggest asset — [their ability] to work together on the field.”
According to Yeomans, team building is in the small things. “I remember [how before the semester began], we walked around, and I tried to show them all [of] their classes and [help] find all their rooms and that sort of thing,” she explained. “Doing things like that, I think, is important just to make them feel welcome and more secure.”
Yeomans continued to explain that the sense of inclusion and security is important because it affects the way new players play She was once a rookie herself and knows how difficult it can be to enter into a team with older players. As a result, Yeomans is doing what she can to “take away that age difference” so everyone can do what they came to do and “just play soccer.”
Hope for the future
When I asked Yeomans about her plans beyond this season, she told me she doesn’t see herself playing professional soccer after graduating from U of T. Instead, she plans to put her chemical engineering degree to use and work at an energy company.
“[Not] an oil and gas company,” she clarified. “I’d want to go toward an energy company that’s looking for green solutions and that sort of thing.” She is gearing up for that this academic year by taking several courses on topics like energy policy and the future of the climate crisis.
Yeomans believes people must be more educated about “what they can do on a community level” to combat the climate crisis. That education should not come from a place of fear but, instead, a place of hope.
In an email to The Varsity, Yeomans wrote that “sometimes fear leads to action because we worry about the world our kids will grow up in.” Other times, she wrote, “fear leads to denial and with that a feeling that there’s no hope… [making] people stagnant.”
“The inaction can then be comfortable,” she explained. “[Creating] a tendency to lean on other people to make lifestyle changes and… fix the world.”
Yeomans is very motivated by hope. “The right steps are being taken and… life-changing innovations have been made and just need to be implemented,” she wrote. “I want to build off those innovations and be part of the teams coming up with more solutions.”
Apart from this admirable and optimistic vision, Yeomans is certain that soccer will remain a part of her life after graduation, whether she plays for a local or League1 Ontario team. Until then, Yeomans hopes to simply enjoy the years she has left with the Blues and see how much success they can achieve together.