Experience. That’s one of the best ways to describe striker Nichelle Prince. The Ajax, Ontario native has already earned three senior caps and scored her first goal during the 2013 Yongchuan Cup as a 17-year-old.
Her call-up was deserving after winning silver at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship. Later that same year, she was a key contributor during the U-17 Women’s World Cup. In Azerbaijan, Nichelle played in all four matches, scoring once and adding two helpers.
More recently, she was a scoring machine for the Ohio State Buckeyes during her freshmen season. In 19 games, she netted a team-leading 12 goals on 36 shots. She earned Big Ten Freshmen of the Week honours for September 9, 2013 after a hat trick and assist against Northeastern.
The Road to Canada 2014 interview series continues with striker Nichelle Prince:
Your group is in a very unique position because you’ll get to play the U-20 Women’s World Cup in your home country. What does that mean to you?
To me personally, it’s the highest honour to be able to play in our own country. Knowing that friends and family are going to be there, and little girls who love soccer are going to be watching you, it’s a really great opportunity that we’re taking in. We really want to make Canada proud.
Have you and the team thought about the moment you first walk onto the pitch in Toronto for the opening match and hear “O Canada”?
That’s the most exciting part about it. I mean, having everyone there like the fans. On the other hand, it also might be a shocking thing and that’s why we have a mental coach who has been making sure we understand the pressure. It’s exciting knowing a lot of fans, our families and little girls will be watching us and cheering us on. I think that’s going to help us along the way, because we are going to have a lot of adrenaline and a lot of energy coming from the crowd.
How excited is your family that the U-20 Women’s World Cup is taking in Canada?
They are really excited. My parents have been planning for awhile. They are so supportive of me and I know they are going to be there with me all the way through the tournament. I know a lot of my family from the States will be coming too. It’s so cool that all of my family is going to be supporting me.
Are there any special rituals in the Prince household when it comes to your soccer career?
No real rituals, but for me, I talk to my parents a lot about soccer and stuff. But, before games, I can’t talk to them at all because I don’t want anything else in my head. After the game though, they are the first people I call and talk to. We’re always talking about soccer in our house. It’s a real family thing. But before games, I definitely can’t talk to them. It’s just something I can’t do.
You have experience with the senior squad. How has that helped you prepare for the tournament?
Getting to play with the women’s team was one of the most amazing experiences for me. I watched the team earlier that year at the 2012 Olympics and to get to play with them, even train with them, was surreal. It’s definitely given me the realization of where I could be in the next few years if I keep working hard. Just knowing that I got that experience from them means I could bring it back to the U-20s. It really opened up my eyes to what I can accomplish in the sport if I keep working hard, learning and progressing.
As a striker, whose game do you want to emulate?
Someone I love, just like the rest of Canada, is Christine Sinclair. Her work on the field is amazing. Everyone goes to her to bring the team up. She’s unbelievable in how she can score a goal, or make a great play, and it changes the entire momentum of the game. That’s the kind of player I want to be. I want to be a player people turn to when the game’s not always going great and put together that winning moment or play that changes everything. I love Christine Sinclair. I look up to her.
When you look back at the 2012 U-17 Women’s World Cup, how do you think your game has grown?
That was my first opening into the national program and I think I did work really hard at the U-17s. I tried to be the player on the field who does all of the work. As you get older, you have to learn more and it’s not just about working hard. It’s also about being open to learning new things to be a better player. You have to improve in little ways.
Canada’s in a group with Ghana, Finland and Korea DPR this summer. What do you know about your opponents?
A big thank you Nichelle for her time. Best of luck to her and the team at the U-20 Women’s World Cup!
About the author:
Sandra Prusina is a journalist and broadcaster based out of Calgary, Canada. She has covered women’s soccer since 2010. She’s also a segment reporter for Olympic Broadcast Services, traveling to Vancouver, London and Sochi to work for the host broadcaster.