By Adamo Marinelli
Riley Bonadie and Flavie Dubé have played competitive soccer together since the under-10 level and are headed south in a few months where they’ll keep their streak as teammates going.
The Ottawa TFC products will set off on fulfilling each of their own long-sought goals of playing NCAA soccer by joining the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs next season.
Dubé is a striker with a nose for the net. She scored at nearly a two-goal-a-game pace last year, leading Ottawa TFC with 27 markers in 15 matches. In her time with the club, she’s also responsible for clinchers in two of their most historic victories. She scored the game-winner at the U-17 national championship in 2019 and against Vaughan to win the Ontario Player Development League title in 2021.
Bonadie plays striker and midfielder and is a strong two-way player.
Her interest in soccer stemmed from her father’s love for the sport. On Saturday mornings when she was younger, she remembers waking up to her dad passionately glued to his beloved Manchester United’s matches.
Bonadie’s father has coached her through most of her career thus far, teaching her intangibles from a young age — skills that have been her strong suit with Ottawa TFC.
The pair are two out of a half-dozen Ottawa TFC teammates who’ve played together since U-10. The club itself is the amalgamation of the Cumberland Cobras and Capital United, which joined forces in 2018 and rebranded as Ottawa TFC a few months later. Through the years, Dubé’s and Bonadie’s team has been a tight-knit group that has been kind and supportive to one another, according to Bonadie.
With the talent among its members, Bonadie said the possibilities for their team was infinite.
“Once we won one of the big trophies, we knew we were going to win another,” Bonadie said. “It was like, there’s so much more to come for this team.”
They also delivered results, setting numerous benchmarks for the club — including winning three Ontario Cups, and the national and OPDL titles that Dubé’s kicks brought them. These achievements are some of Dubé’s fondest soccer memories, she said.
“Winning nationals was such a big deal for us, but at the same time, looking back at it, we were extremely confident of our work ethic and skills,” Bonadie said.
At Louisiana Tech, Bonadie will study education, a fitting career considering how much she enjoyed helping younger players at Ottawa TFC. In a coaching role, she enjoyed giving the club’s younger members advice and feedback. In return, their effort and determination to succeed inspired them to work even harder and inspired her to improve too.
“Looking at these little kids, even though there are differences in their skillsets, all of them have the potential to go on and do great things as well,” Bonadie said.
Dubé is currently midway through her Première Ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ) season with the Ottawa South United Force. She joined them this season for the opportunity to play at the highest possible level before heading off to university.
“We didn’t start out the best, but I think we are getting better after every game we play. Every game is a challenge but I think that is good for our growth,” Dubé said.
While speaking to the Ottawa Sports Pages, Bonadie expressed how challenging COVID-19 was; no longer could she attend most soccer showcases in the U.S. — making connecting with NCAA coaches much more difficult.
“You’d send (schools) your highlight tape and hope for the best — which was probably like a one-in-100 shot that you’d actually get a response because … they’d stick with who they knew. It was really hard,” Bonadie said.
It was a connection from Ottawa TFC that helped Bonadie overcome the sudden exposure gap between prospects like her and her American counterparts.
Steve Voltz, the head coach of Louisiana Tech’s women’s team, took over the reins of the bulldogs after coaching a couple of seasons at Ottawa TFC, giving both Bonadie and Dubé a natural in with the school’s team.
“That connection helped because COVID made it very difficult to get a look from NCAA
coaches,” Bonadie said. “So, when Steve showed interest, I was super excited… Playing Division 1 soccer in the states was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Dubé faced similar obstacles. She experienced recruiting almost entirely online, making communicating more challenging. Dubé found that another difficulty was that American schools didn’t want to sign any players without watching them in person, which COVID-19 effectively prevented full stop.
As pandemic restrictions waned, Dubé was able to visit a few schools and attend some showcases in person.
She attended Garneau high school in Orleans and will study mechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech. She still hasn’t been to its campus though in person. Nevertheless, the combined offerings of its soccer team and mechanical engineering program made Louisiana Tech a perfect fit for her, Dubé said. Voltz being the Bulldogs coach was another influencing factor, she added. “He knows a lot about the game and is a fantastic coach,” Dubé said.
Bonadie’s commitment — made months before her own — was also a plus, Dubé said.
“It’ll be a lot less stressful having a familiar face around… We’ll both motivate each other to play at the highest possible level,” Dubé added.
Read More in our 2022 High School Best Series, presented by Louis-Riel Sports-Études, as we tip our caps to top local student-athletes at:
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.