STEPHENVILLE No matter what he does in life, Sam Watkins understands that success comes from hard work.
The budding multi-sport athlete from Stephenville is making a name for himself as an elite performer at 11 years of age.
His hard work has earned him a spot on the provincial Under-12 male soccer team which will see him test his mettle against some of the best in the country when he travels to Ottawa July 6-10 for a series of exhibition games against some of the top Under-12 teams in eastern Ontario. He is committed to attending training camps in St. John’s once a month.
When he’s not kicking around a soccer ball, chances are you will find Watkins honing his hockey skills. He will showcase his hockey skills next month when he suits up with the North America entry into the OneHockey AAA International Tournament May 6-8 in Edmonton, Alta.
A berth on the North America team is based on player tryouts, but since there weren’t any tryouts in this province players could apply for a spot based on their performance with their respective AAA programs. Watkins is a forward with the Western Wolves AAA Peewee team and plays with the hometown Jets under the umbrella of the Stephenville Minor Hockey Association.
The 11-year-old Stephenville Middle School student is the son of Stephenville’s Brent and Holly Watkins.
“My dad always says that if you work hard success will come, and that’s what I usually do ... I work hard at everything and success usually comes,” Watkins said earlier this week.
He swayed toward hockey when asked which sport was his favourite, but he admits both sports provide him with a lot fun and fitness. He also likes the fact he gets to meet a lot of new friends along the way.
“These are my two favourite sports and I find them really fun to play because you get to travel around and have fun playing sports,” he said.
“On the Newfoundland soccer team I met 18 new friends because I didn’t know anybody on the team except Kirk Penney from Corner Brook,” he added.
Watkins is committed to training with the Under-12 team by making a monthly trek to St. John’s to avail of coaching provided by head coach Mike Power, who is also the player development co-ordinator for the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA).
This year marks only the second year the NLSA offered an Under-12 program. It is designed to identify players capable of being trained at an earlier age to help prepare them for competition on the Atlantic level in the Under-13 age bracket. The concept involves attendance at a number of training camps throughout the year with a tournament in Ottawa in July serving as a measuring stick on the development of the players.
“Sam is one of the hardest working players that I have actually,” coach Power said from St. John’s earlier this week.
“He is really driven and he works his socks off every time he’s on the pitch. He’s a good lad actually that Sam Watkins. He’s a good fella.”
Power was also quick to point out that Watkins brings versatility to the table.
“On the pitch he’s a mid-fielder player ... he can play wide, he can play through the middle, he can score goals,” he said.