W-League Championship Feature
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
OTTAWA, ON - The Ottawa Fury. The epitome of true player development. The Fury have posted an astonishing 126-25-16 regular-season record in the W-League during the past 10 years. The team has posted a 30-2-2 record at Algonquin College and an overall 57-4-3 record at home during the same span. Since joining the W-League, the Fury have collected eight division titles, five conference championships, six final four appearances and three appearances in the championship final.
The success, however, runs much deeper than numbers. The Fury has become one of Canada’s top player development organizations and Fury teams are perennially top contenders at all levels, including the Super Y-League, Super-20 League, and PDL.
At the forefront of the club’s success, though, has been the W-League team. Owner and CEO John Pugh is both a local and global leader in helping to develop the women’s game. The Fury’s high profile in the community has seen local standouts such as Rhian Wilkinson, Diana Matheson, Kelly Parker, Carmelina Moscato and Robyn Gayle play in the past, and players like Christina Julien, Teresa Rynier and Courtney Wetzel play in 2011.
Seeing players move on to play for the Canadian Women’s National Team, including 14 alumni at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, and getting the chance to move into the professional ranks has been one Pugh’s biggest sources of pride. Julien became the latest Fury player to make the move to the pros recently, signing with Swedish Premier League side Jitex BK for their upcoming season.
Having players such as Julien play for the Fury has also helped the club raise its profile locally. Pugh refers to the side as the club’s flagship, and is expecting a great turnout for the W-League Championship and a memorable experience for all the teams that reach the championship weekend.
At the center of the team, however, lies one player that is the heart and soul of the Fury and represents what the organization is all about: Jasmine Phillips. Phillips is a graduate of the Fury youth program, which led her to a scholarship at the University of Maine. There she quickly became a key component of the success of the Black Bears, posting five impressive seasons that saw her amass a career 34-19-12 record in the NCAA posting 35 shutouts and a GAA of 0.52. To this day Phillips continues to hold the school records for wins, shutouts, minutes played and goals-against average, in addition to her many NCAA records as well.
Ahead of the W-League Championship in her own back yard, Phillips took the time to talk all things Fury.
How has the Ottawa Fury organization helped shape you as a person and player?
Playing for the Fury has helped shape me in many ways as both a person and a player. Being continuously exposed to a high level of training, playing and coaching helped to better my skills and knowledge of the game. I’ve also been exposed to numerous people and situations I would not have otherwise experienced which has helped me to gain a better understanding of people and open my eyes to aspects of life I was maybe not so well aware of.
John Pugh is recognized throughout North America and around the world for his devotion to developing soccer. How much has he meant in growing the Fury as well as women’s soccer?
On the youth side John has given female athletes the opportunity to train and play at a high level for years now. He has found a way to allow them to train and play at a high level while receiving high-quality coaching in a professional environment - all of which helps them to move on to play at the next level. He has provided women from all over the world with a great stepping stone to play at the next level by giving them an opportunity to play high-level soccer in an amazing environment which has allowed for them to better their games and grow as people to prepare them for what is next.
You’ve had great success at the University of Maine and the Fury. How did the Fury Youth Academy prepare you to have such success?
As I mentioned in my first answer, the Fury has provided me with a high level of playing, training and coaching which helped me to prepare for playing at the collegiate and W-League level. While in the youth program I was exposed to great coaching, and played with many high-level athletes, which helped to provide me with a solid foundation of the game. Also, while with the youth program I was given a lot of responsibility and learned the importance of professionalism from an early age, which I believe helped make the transition from club soccer to school soccer, and school soccer to the W-League fairly smooth for me. Really, I think having been a part of the youth program with the Fury provided me with a great foundation to take on any soccer endeavor out there.
The Fury have come so close to winning the W-League championship. Being the captain is it something you talk about within the team?
We have a few returners from last year who know what it is like to be so close and not come out on top so it is something that gets mentioned occasionally, but it is not something that we dwell on either. What happened in the past is in the past. We have taken our lessons from past mistakes, and shared them, which is all we can do. If we focused on anything more than that we would be doing ourselves a serious disservice by not focusing on what we have in front of is, which is what I think we are trying to do, and what can make us really successful.
And being able to host the 2012 W-League Championship in beautiful Ottawa in front of your own fans?
It is very exciting getting to host here in Ottawa this year. Maybe I’m biased because I was born and raised here, but I think Ottawa is an amazing city and a great place to have the championship. We have an amazing, supportive fan base who are always great to play in front of, and the environment should be really energizing. I know we are all really looking forward to it.