Three Vancouver Island Soccer League veterans looking for a change of scenery have found a new home with Cowichan LMG.
Cooper Barry, Paddy Nelson and Justin Parish, all key contributors with a variety of teams in the past, attended their first training session with the Cowichan club at Rotary Park last week, making a seamless transition to their new team.
Head coach Glen Martin couldn’t disguise his happiness at seeing the trio in action alongside his returning players.
"They’ve been on my radar since I’ve been coaching, so nine years," he said. "They’ve been tough to play against for a long time."
Nelson, a striker, and Barry, a versatile player who can fit in at several positions, came over together from Saanich Fusion, coaxed north by their friend Steve Scott, who signed with Cowichan last year after several seasons with Sooke.
"Steve was the main catalyst. He got us excited to come up here," Nelson related. "Me and Coop have been playing in the summer with Steve for a lot of years. We have fun in the summer, so we want to keep that going."
Both players held Cowichan in high esteem even before they entertained the idea of joining the club.
"When you come to Cowichan, you know you’re in for a game," Nelson said. "It’s never an easy game against Cowichan, which is tough to find in Victoria; sometimes you get a game off."
Nelson’s work ethic is a big part of what will help him mesh with his new squad.
"I’m not a guy to just show up," he said. "I work hard in practice, and hopefully that carries over to games. Hopefully I bring a bit of leadership. They’re not lacking in leadership, but hopefully I can add to that."
Barry prides himself on commitment and was eager to join a team that shares that value.
"For me, the commitment of the guys, as well as Glen, was number one," he said. "There’s no team like it. The guys are such a class act on
the field, too. There’s no animosity, so it’s an easy transition." While Barry has been with Saanich for the last five years, Nelson has played with the Div. 1 Fusion squad for 10 years after spending most of his life with the organization.
"It was tough as in leaving the club," he admitted. "But these guys make it easy."
Like Barry, Nelson hopes to bring some leadership, although he pointed out that it isn’t something the team lacks, with players such as player/coach Tyler Hughes and captain Jesse Winter already in the fold.
"They have a lot of it already," he said. "It will be nice to just fit in to a group of guys who already have that stability."
For Parish, the consistency of the commitment level was one of three reasons he wanted to join Cowichan. His friends on the team, including goalie Joel Wilson, were also part of it, as well as the fact that the players genuinely like each other.
"They work hard for each other," he said. "That’s something I want to be part of."
Parish has played in the VISL with Castaways, Vic West, Gordon Head and Bays, so he knows what Cowichan is all about, and believes he can help the team out.
"I’ve played against them a lot, and I think I have something I’ve seen them lacking: someone who can make the final pass, do something creative to create a chance."
He can already see that he fits in with his new teammates.
"This is my first practice, but it doesn’t feel like it," he said. "It’s excellent; an awesome start."