By: Kelly Kent
“Tenacious. Like a Tasmanian Devil. She’s all over the field, working and working hard.”
That is how Garth Gittens, the Algonquin Thunder women’s soccer coach, describes the playing style of this year’s Ontario Colleges Athletic Association female soccer player of the year recipient, Kelly Avalos.
Avalos, 21, is currently a third-year business administration student at Algonquin, though she spent her first year at the college studying in the veterinary technician program.
She has been playing as a defensive midfielder for Algonquin for four years and has now been named the OCAA female soccer player of the year twice, the first time being in 2010.
“It’s always been an honour to be recognized for playing a sport I love to play,” she said.
Avalos began playing soccer when she was seven or eight years old, she said, because her two older brothers, Christopher, 24, and Lee, 22, had been playing for as long as she could remember.
She was born and raised in Ottawa and started out on a local team called the Ottawa Internationals, where she played for several years until joining the Ottawa Fury when she was 14.
She played with the Fury for three years at an elite level before returning to play for the Ottawa Internationals.
She then played for St. Anthony, another Ottawa team, for a while until this past summer when she helped the Gloucester Hornets to a first-place finish.
Soccer isn’t the only sport Avalos enjoys playing, however. She played a variety of sports growing up including basketball, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, touch football, cross-country and track and field.
In high school Avalos chose to narrow down the number of sports she played to volleyball, basketball and soccer. In her Grade 12 year she was named the MVP for both her basketball and soccer teams.
When Avalos came to Algonquin, she made the decision to focus solely on soccer, though she said she loves basketball almost as much.
Coach Gittens said although Avalos is laid-back and quiet off the field, she is also hard working and a joy to be around and never stops moving when she is on the field.
“She is the engine of our team. She is the catalyst that makes things happen,” he said.
Avalos said she loves playing for the Algonquin Thunder because the team feels like a family.
“We call ourselves a family. A Thunder family, and actually it becomes that because you’re with them every day,” she said. “And the coaches guide you on the field, but they also guide you in life in a parental way. You feel at home when you’re in your locker room.”
Although her goal is to work somewhere in the government, Avalos said she will probably always be around the game.
“I think I’ll always play – whether it’s a co-ed league when I’m older or a women’s league. I think I’ll always love the sport so I’ll always have my foot on the ball somehow.”