Terin Hultink uses small football field on family farm to maintain shooting skills during pandemic

Growing up on a farm in a soccer family has its perks, especially for a post-secondary player whose second season has been canceled by the pandemic.

Not only did Terin Hultink have access to a small football pitch at the Selah Family Riding Center in Fenwick, but she had four siblings willing to give up some of their free time to help her use it.

And this field has been put to good use. Hultink didn’t feel rusty at all when she returned for a third year at Niagara College and her second season on the Knights women’s soccer team.

“My free time was pretty much football. They were always ready to play with me, ”she said of older brothers Tim and Taylor and younger sisters Tori and Talia.

“Almost every day of the week we would go out and play a little football. “

Hultink also played on the varsity women’s basketball team during her freshman year at the area community college after graduating from Smithville Christian High School. She led the Knights in rebounds, averaging 10.7 per game; as well as thefts, 1.7; and finished third with 9.7 points.

What sport would the recreational therapy student leave on the back burner if she had to?

“I should say football,” she said after thinking. “I think I feel more comfortable with the game.

“I have been playing football for a longer time. “

Indeed, she has. Jason and Tawna Hultink’s daughter started kicking a soccer ball when she was five.

“I’ve been playing it for so long. My family loves it. Hultink, now 20, said. “I have two older brothers and they grew up playing against each other all the time.

“My dad grew up playing it, so it’s kind of our family sport. “

She played in the Pelham Panthers Minor Soccer Association until the age of 12. After that, she competed with Club Roma in St. Catharines.

This season, Hultink and Sydney Sica, his Knights co-captain, have scored nine goals in six games, tying Jackie Lawther’s single-season record set in 2015 in 10 games. Hultink only needed 15 games to set the career goal scoring record with 16, surpassing the 15 goals Michelle Maecker has scored in three seasons with the Knights.

“It’s very exciting to be able to do that in my first two years of play.”

She credits this year’s roster for helping her and Sica find the back of the net.

“What’s good about this team this year is that we have good midfielders who can go to the middle, so I’m able to come up to the top as a striker,” Hultink said. “It’s good because I have an attacking mentality.

“I like to do these races and get the ball and go to the net with it.”

She enjoys controlling the “mid-game” when she’s on the pitch.

“Most of my life I played in midfield.

Niagara went undefeated in the league, compiling a 6-0 record and securing a playoff quarter-finals pass despite missing all of last season due to COVID-19. A “big part” of that success, Hultink said, is due to head coach Rob Lalama and his coaching staff.

“During COVID, when the teams stopped and everything, they didn’t stop. They kept looking for the right players and recruiting, continuing to build our squad, ”she said. “It really helped because going back to testing, we looked at the talent that came out and we said, ‘Oh, my God, it’s going to be a really good team. “”

On Saturday, the Knights, first, South Division; will host reigning OCAA bronze medalist Humber, 4-2, second, Central Division; during a 2 p.m. kickoff at the Youngs Sportsplex in Welland. The winner will advance to the Provincial Championships October 29-30 at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

Niagara and Humber haven’t met during the regular season.

Hultink heads to this weekend’s must-see game, not worried that the first-round exemption takes an advantage on the momentum that has been built since day one.

“It depends on how we play in training,” she said. “As long as we keep this competitive level of play, everything should be fine.

“We have to keep an eye on the next game and what it looks like as we have to practice.”

The 6-0 regular season, although a record for a program dating back to 2009, is already a thing of the past for the Knights co-captain. She suggested that while Niagara had some “tough games” they weren’t the maximum level of competition the team could face.

“We’re definitely going to come up against tougher teams, but there were some areas where we showed our strength and it was like, ‘OK, wow, this team could actually go pretty far.'”

With the OCAA shortening the season from 10 games to six and limiting a team’s schedule to home playoffs with teams in his division, Hultink believes the Knights have yet to be “seriously challenged.”

Niagara players talk about their state of mind at every practice. They also remember that “half is a mental game”.

“Before every game you have to be ready for anything. You can’t just think, ‘Oh, it’s this team, we’ve got it. “

Taking on leadership responsibilities as a co-captain put no additional pressure on the second-year.

“I actually love being a captain. Looking at the team, it’s a fairly young team and I already feel it a bit in a leadership role.

Besides getting along, Hultink and Sica form a formidable 1-2 offensive punch on the football field.

“We agree on a lot of things. Even on the pitch we have contributed a lot to each other and to all of our goals, ”said Hultink. “It’s a great team. There is good team morale.

“It’s easy to be captain on this team.

She moved on to recreational therapy studies in Niagara after two years in the Educational Assistant program. Hultink, whose summer job is teaching horseback riding on the family farm, would like to make a career out of it.

“I am looking to integrate the therapeutic riding program and work with children with special needs. “