“I’m a really competitive person so if someone says they’re better than me, I will do whatever it takes to be the best.”
Before Simmrin Dhaliwal was 16, she had the numbers of Ivy League and NCAA Division 1 college soccer coaches programmed into her phone. Simmrin was all of 16 but was already weighing offers to attend Princeton, Northwestern and various other universities. She has now committed to attending Northwestern University in Chicago, free of charge.
Simmrin is a young soccer star who got her start playing in the Whitecaps prospects league when she was 11 and again when she was 12. From that point on, she made the BC Provincial team playing one year up. With the provincial team, Simmrin won silver and bronze at past national championship tournaments and then got an invite to the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite program. With that program, they won gold at the Canada summer games and gold at the Gothia Cup in Sweden. Being one of the three girls from BC to make the U17 Canadian Women’s national team and the only East Indian on the team, Simmrin and her team went on to qualify for the World Cup, finishing second at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Jamaica and at the FiFA World Cup in Costa Rica, advanced out of their group, eliminating top teams Germany and Korea. The Canadian team lost in the quarterfinals but played amazing soccer and created buzz in Canada for the way they played. Simmrin was a part of making history at the tournament, when the team scored more than one goal in a single World Cup game.
You just got back from a trip to Costa Rica, can you tell me a little more about it?
I was in Costa Rica for a month for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup representing Canada. It was a great experience and we made it farther than we thought we would. I met so many incredible people and felt so encouraged by the support in the stadium. My parents weren’t able to join me on this trip but I talked to them daily and there were very supportive and encouraging.
Where else have you had the chance to travel, and does the travelling affect your school work?
I have travelled all across the US to different states, playing in provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI, I played in Sweden, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. I do very well in school considering the amount I miss. I have never finished with less than a B, I have always finished with an A or B. It is definitely hard missing so much school and it makes it hard to catch up. But I have done it so many time that I’ve learned how to prepare myself for upcoming absences. It has made me have to work that much harder but helped make me a more independent and self motivated person.
Canada isn’t well known for soccer as we tend to focus on other sports. What made you start playing soccer?
My mom put me into a lot of sports like swimming and gymnastics, but being the first child my mom was always afraid of me getting sick playing outside. My older cousin played soccer and my aunt told my mom to get me into soccer because I had so much energy as a kid. It was more of a time-passing hobby, and who would have known that I would be sitting here today, and that’s how I got started. My dad would always be watching basketball and didn’t know much about soccer, but once I started playing and wasn’t very good at it, he couldn’t stand me not being the best and being upset at my performance, so he’d take me out to the field and practice. He helped me get better, and I wanted to learn, so I went to private training and got better. I went from playing net to playing attacking-mid with the Whitecaps team but when I go to the National team I’m a full-back.
I have been in love with the game every since I started. There are times when it gets tough and I question why I play the game, but the excitement and amazing experiences that I have while playing soccer, makes me love it more. Soccer has made me a better, more well-rounded person.
I started playing when I was 7-8 and I was pretty terrible. Everyone would be running after the ball and I would be trailing behind them. I started playing soccer as more of a hobby, my parents thought I’d have something to do so I wouldn’t be sitting on the couch at home. The first year I was horrible, after that year when my dad started working with me, the second year I was a step higher than everyone else because he had invested so much time in me.
Do you play in Indian tournaments?
All the time! I love playing in Indian tournaments, it’s more casual and less-stress. Obviously people want to win but for me, Whitecaps and the National team are so stressful so going to Indian tournaments is fun and I’m able to enjoy myself playing.
I hate fitness. Especially the beep test or yo-yo test. I’d always be in the middle or bottom, so I hate doing fitness tests. I knew I needed to improve so for the last six months I’ve been concentrating on my fitness so I could be ready for nationals. The position I play with the national is literally up and down the field, like the beep test, so the practicing paid off.
What made you choose Northwestern?
There were so many offers from other schools and we went to visit schools that were highly ranked academically, like Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and the cities were great but I wanted a balance in school and the athletic side. Northwestern being in the Big 10, you always get that competitiveness and the actual city of Chicago is beautiful and the atmosphere is nice. If I’m going to school for four years I want it to be somewhere I can have fun, and not be in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve been travelling so much but I’ve never stayed somewhere for four months and then come home. I went to Costa Rica for one month and was getting homesick near the end of the month. I’m a little nervous but I think because of all the experience I’ve had travelling, I’ll be prepared for the move to Northwestern.
My parents are way more nervous than me. They were trying to get me to stay home and go to UBC, but I knew what I wanted and that’s the opportunity to go to the states and play NCAA Division 1 soccer. My parents worry if I made the right choice because Chicago has the reputation of being dangerous, but I’m right outside Chicago, and I’m going there for school and soccer, not to look for trouble. There’s a lot of support in the US, especially for student-athletes. They love that there and going to Northwestern is going to open so many windows of opportunity for me. I haven’t decided specifically yet but I know I want to go into something within the medical field. The sciences hopefully and then med-school.
This last summer was huge. I travelled to Sherbrooke, Quebec and went on to play in the Canada Summer games, and we won a gold medal for BC. It was like a mini-Olympics and it was such an amazing experience. We played against Quebec in the finals in a packed stadium, and won gold. Last year’s Whitecaps team was history making; we won our league and every championship game we were in.