Don’t let Desiree Scott’s small stature fool you. She’s one of the most imposing central defensive midfielders in the women’s game because of her grit, determination and work ethic.
Time and again, she’s proven to be a key cog on the Canadian team. Look no further than the 2012 Olympics, where she kept some of the world’s best strikers at bay, while making a crucial goal-line clearance in the bronze medal match to preserve her team’s clean sheet.
This summer will mark her second Women’s World Cup appearance, where the 27-year-old will add to her impressive 89 caps wearing the maple leaf.
Our Road to Canada 2015 interview series continues with Winnipeg’s Desiree Scott:
Your role with this team is very specific. When did you decide being a central midfielder, with a focus on the defensive aspect of the game, was the style you wanted to play?
My career started off as a wide midfielder. It was a lot of running up and down the flanks and I just didn’t feel at home there. We went to the Pan American Games and I was thrown into the middle of the park as a defensive midfielder. That’s where it took off for me. I felt at home in the middle, being able to make those tackles and ever since then, it’s where I’ve loved to be.
How do you make up for your smaller physical size on the pitch?
I think my low-level of gravity actually works in my benefit. It allows me to get stuck in on those big tackles. The other part of it is my intuition. It’s something I thrive on doing. It’s all about having no fear when you’re going into those tackles. Honestly, that’s what gets me into a game and that defensive side is what I thrive on. It’s absolutely my bread and butter. I have to bring that every single game.
I always think about the 2012 Olympic semifinal against the USA and that massive hit you took. The fact you didn’t suffer a serious injury is astounding.
I got so many messages with people wondering if I had broken my leg or torn everything in my knee. Initially, when I got hit, my leg just hyperextended and I thought I was done. I just remember hobbling off the field and coach says, “Des! Can you go back on?”. I said “John, I just need a minute”, but he says “We don’t have a minute!”. The adrenaline just kept me going. My mom says these big quads of mine saved me because it ended up just being a really bad bone bruise. We stayed on top of the swelling and that was pretty much it. I’ve watched it back. I know it didn’t look pretty at all. I’ll tell you, I’m very happy I’m still standing.
You’re one of three members on this team who comes from a CIS background. How did that playing path go for you?
I think it’s part of my story and part of my journey. I’m a homebody. Anyone that knows me knows that I rep Winnipeg very, very proudly. That’s where all of my family is. There were times I was being scouted and I did get offers to go to the US, but the year I graduated, 2005, was the first year the University of Manitoba had a team and I thought, “Why not stay at home? I love it here. Why not see what this program is all about?”. I was able to play with girls I grew up with. Staying close to home was just a choice I made and one that I think is part of my journey. I could’ve gone to the States and who knows what could’ve happened with my career. I’m proud to be one of the few Canadians who stuck around. I truly enjoyed the league and I enjoyed playing for a Canadian school.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but was last year’s friendly in Winnipeg against the USA the first time your parents saw you play live for the national team?
It’s true. My mom, she’s afraid to fly and she usually watches me on tv and in the comfort of her home. For us to come to Winnipeg was the first time she saw me play live for Canada. I’ve been on the team for awhile so it’s definitely crazy that was the first time. There were so many family and friends in the stands. It was a super time for her because she’s a very proud mom.
Will she make it out to Edmonton for the matches against China and New Zealand?
She is! She’s getting over her fear of flying and she already has her trip booked. She is so excited for me and this team.
You’ve got over 75 caps to your name. Has your tenure with the team and the fact you’re going to play in another Women’s World Cup sunk in yet?
It really is a dream. A lot of people say, “Did you ever think you’d be playing for Canada at home for a World Cup?” and it really is a dream of mine. It’s not something, even to this day, I believe is still true. I think I’m so blessed to be doing this and I’m so grateful to be on this journey with a great group of girls. I’m just so excited for it. It’s an honour to do it.
What is your dream in terms of a legacy? When this is all said and done, what do you want people to think of when they look back on the tournament?
It’s a really big question. For me, it’s just about inspiring the youth. I think a lot of girls look up to us as a team and have a dream of being one of us one day. I hear a lot of “I want to play for Canada”. That’s what it is for me. I want to be a role model for those young kids. I want to show them that through hard work and dedication that it’s possible. It’s about belief in yourself and commitment in doing what you love. Dreams are possible and they can come true. I’m a Prairie girl. I’m one of the lone ducks from Manitoba and love that story about it. It’s something that keeps me going. I want to inspire those people who think that no good players come from Manitoba. For me, it’s just about inspiring the youth and allowing them to still believe in their dreams. I definitely want to get involved in coaching, obviously with our schedule it’s a little bit crazy, but when I can go back, I get involved with the kids. I love giving back and take the wealth of knowledge that I have and give it to the youth. I think that’s an important part of it.
It was a pleasure catching up with Desiree. Make sure you follow her journey on Twitter.