BRITISH COLUMBIA

Kaylyn Kyle credits coach for helping her rediscover love for soccer

06/21/2015 12:36 EDT | Updated 06/21/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Like many of her teammates, Kaylyn Kyle's love affair with soccer took a beating at the 2011 World Cup.

Under Carolina Morace, Canada finished dead last. Players wondered whether the sacrifice was worth it. Then the hiring of John Herdman as coach after the tournament changed everything.

"I remember his first speech to us and it hit somewhere deep in my heart. I was like 'I love this, why would I give it up for one bad year?'" Kyle said.

"For me it was the best decision I've ever made. To be able to be given a second opportunity with one passion that I'm absolutely in love with is an amazing experience."

The 26-year-old midfielder from Saskatoon earned her milestone 100th cap for Canada on Sunday, entering the 1-0 win over Switzerland in the 76th minute.

The other members of the select 100-plus cap club on the Canadian roster are Karina LeBlanc, Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, Sophie Schmidt, captain Christine Sinclair, Melissa Tancredi and Rhian Wilkinson.

On a team full of characters, Kyle burns brightly. And she speaks warmly about the people around her.

"This team is family," she said. "It's something that you can't force. I think we've built trust in one another.

"Obviously we've gone through ups and downs. There's days where we're like 'I want to punch you' but it's just that family mentality. We're kind of like boys that way. We say what's on our mind. We love openly. We wear our heart on our sleeves. And I think that's way we have an advantage over teams.

"Look at the Olympic Games, we came in as underdogs, people didn't even rate us. And we were this close to being in the gold medal game."

Kyle, who was 19 when she made her debut for Canada in January 2008, played in a career-high 62 consecutive Canada matches in 2011 to 2014.

At this World Cup, Herdman used Kyle as an impact substitute against China and New Zealand before starting her against the Netherlands.

Outside of soccer, Kyle has expanded her business interests. She has worked with headphone manufacturer Beats by Dre, Under Armour and Golazo, an organic drink company based in Seattle.

Beats by Dre is doing a personalized headphone for the team.

"It's pretty cool," she said. "We're pretty lucky. And I'm pretty lucky."

On a team full of dancers, Kyle likes to shake a leg. Her dance moves have been showcased on social media with that of her teammates.

A fashionista, Kyle has a keen eye when it comes to clothes. Asked who the best dresser is on the team, she paused. "I'd say me," she said with a giggle. "I like how I dress."

Kyle's father Doug played hockey, scoring 55 goals and adding 58 assists for a 1983-84 Saskatoon Blades team that included Wendel Clark and Joey Kocur. He signed with the Edmonton Oilers but, unable to crack a champion roster, he spent three seasons in the International Hockey League.

Eventually with two small kids and facing a heavy travel schedule, her father retired.

The hockey gene did not make its way to Kaylyn. "I want to lie and say I was really good but I suck at skating."

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