By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club
The end of the season is usually the time to celebrate championships and achievements, but this year had a winning feeling to it from the moment the Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club hosted the East Regional Soccer League’s kickoff weekend in mid-July.
“It definitely felt like a victory just to finally get players on the field,” highlights Hotspurs General Manager Bruce Hartill. “To see all three fields full of players and spectators, you could see the excitement, and it was just a huge sigh of relief to see it happening.”
There was some initial lingering hesitancy naturally, but smiles and competition ultimately ruled, and having no COVID outbreaks occur through soccer was another win this year.
“Everybody who was involved in the sport were following the rules the right way,” Hartill signals. “It ended up being a great season.”
With only a small fall program possible in 2020, it was “a great return” to have 300 play recreational/developmental soccer this summer, under Hotspurs director Rocco Barresi, staff Marion Butler and many coaches – most of whom are female.
“Especially for the girls to keep playing the sport, it’s critical to have role models,” Hartill explains. “I think it’s important for them to have leaders who played at university or in competitive so they can see that they can do it too, or show them that they can be a coach.”
Hotspurs competitive soccer also shone this season. After 2 losses and a tie to start, the Under-15 boys Youngstars won 8 of their last 9 matches to place 3rd in the top ERSL division. Antonio Di Bartolo recorded 5 consecutive clean sheets in goal to kickstart the run, while Tristan Serra led the league in scoring with 20 goals.
The Hotspurs U12 boys were unbeaten all season, the U12 girls had just 1 loss in 12 outings, and all of Nepean’s groups held their own in the ERSL.
“Overall, the competitive program was a huge success,” indicates Hartill, who was pleased to simply get more teams on the field to begin with. “It’s starting to grow going into winter, and then going into next spring/summer, I know we’re going to grow some more.”
Powered by Atlético Ottawa community partner
Adding excitement to soccer’s return was the Hotspurs’ new partnership with Atlético Ottawa, which provided additional expertise, resources, and unforgettable experiences to club members, as well as a pathway for youth players to be identified by Atlético de Madrid, Atlético Ottawa and the Canadian Premier League.
A major highlight was having Atlético players Drew Beckie and Ben McKendry attend Hotspurs sessions, when young players got to meet and connect with the stars.
“Again, you’re looking at role models for the kids, and giving them inspiration to want to reach for that highest level if they want to,” Hartill notes. “It inspires players to even work harder to reach their goals, which is incredible.”
Getting to go out to an Atlético game together was great to help build a feeling of community, Hartill adds, and offered another sign of the rebound occurring from the dark days of lockdown.
“We wanted to bring the club out of the tough situation and to rebuild in a positive direction,” outlines Hartill, who joined the storied club of 50+ years last season, with the primary goal of guiding the Hotspurs out of the pandemic. “Of course it’s still a challenge, but we’re coming out of it better than a number of clubs.
“It’s slowly coming back, which is great, and I’m extremely excited about the future. I think the sky’s the limit for this club.”
As the 2021 outdoor soccer season concludes, the Hotspurs are proud to salute the efforts of all involved in club programs, from the adult level through to the competitive and recreational ranks.
“A big, big thank you for being patient and working with us to get through COVID,” Hartill underlines. “We can’t thank everybody enough – our volunteers, parents, and everyone who stepped up or just trusted us to run a nice, safe and fun program for everybody.”
Fawn Mulholland joins Hotspurs as new Technical Director
The Nepean Hotspurs are pleased to announce that Fawn Mulholland will join the Club as the Technical Director effective November 1, 2021.
Fawn is a National B Licensed coach, having played and coached with clubs in Northern Ireland, the United States and Canada. She is a former Coaches Association of Ontario Female Coach Mentor and has obtained soccer-specific accreditations in Europe and North America, as well as learning facilitator training. She obtained two Bachelors’ in Finance and Business Competitive Intelligence respectively, with candidacy for a Master’s in Technology Management.
As a player, Fawn represented Northern Ireland at club and national level, including playing with Crusaders Strikers FC in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Fawn won Irish League Cup and Premier Leagues with Crusaders FC. Fawn was a 4-year starter and Scholar Athlete at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. Thereafter, Fawn moved to Canada and played for OISC Fury, coaching alongside Ottawa Fury players in the process.
Fawn has coached with Ottawa Internationals for five years in positions including Director of Women’s High Performance, Girls Staff Coach and most recently, Technical Director. Fawn is one of a handful of female Technical Director’s in Eastern Ontario. In 2018, Fawn coached Nepean Hotspurs 2008 girls for two years. In addition, Fawn founded 613 Soccer Training for small and private group training, operating technically focused opportunities for players from 2016-2021.
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