Dayna Meloche headed to US on full ride soccer scholarship

 

By Joel Charron

Dayna Meloche is taking her soccer talents to south…of the border.

The 18-year-old sweeper from St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School has accepted a $100,000 full ride soccer scholarship to Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan for the next four years.

“This is an amazing opportunity for me,” said Meloche.

Meloche will join former Wildcat teammate Monique DeGrandis and also be reunited with Ashley Parent, whom she has known since she was a child.

Meloche admits one of the reasons she chose Madonna University was because she knew DeGrandis and Parent were already attending school there.

“It makes it a lot easier having two people there that I know,” said Meloche. “I wanted to stay close to home and I knew Madonna University was a good place to go and they take their soccer serious there.”

Madonna University wasn’t the only school looking to sign the young sweeper. Meloche said she had several offers, including from North Carolina, Northern Michigan and the University of Windsor.

“We wanted her to take her time,” said her father, Todd. “This was a very important decision. We wanted to make sure that she was comfortable with the decision she made.”

Currently, Meloche players for coach Russell Bell and the Eastside Kickers soccer team in Windsor in the OYSL league.

Meloche began her career at age four when she joined Amherstburg Minor Soccer Association (AMSA). She would later be asked to join the U10 travel team.

She recalls being one of two girls on the team, the other girl being Christine Belcher.

“Deep down inside I liked playing with the boys better,” said Meloche.

Dayna Meloche of is off to Madonna University this August after accepting a full-ride scholarship.

Meloche continued to make a name for herself on the soccer circuit, eventually being asked to join the U13 Future Pros soccer program.

It didn’t take long for Meloche to catch the attention of Steve Vagnini, who offered her a chance to play of the Eastside Kickers.

The 18-year-old said it was a tough decision to make but realized playing for the Kicker would help her grow as a player.

Meloche said she has had a lot of help through her playing years, something that she is very grateful for.

“There are so many people that helped get me to where I am today,” said Meloche. “Words cannot begin to express my thanks.”

She credits Vagnini for being a positive influence in her career.

“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had in any sport,” she stated. “He’s has been a huge influence on me. Everything I know about the game of soccer is because of him.”

“He is hands down the best coach, bottom line,” said Todd. “He not only teaches her about the game, but also a team first attitude.”

Todd also credits his wife Cindy for keeping their daughter in soccer.

In Grade 10, Meloche had choose between soccer and hockey, while Todd wanted her to pick hockey, Cindy encouraged Meloche to pursue soccer.

It was a decision that would see Meloche win a league title with the Eastside Kickers, earn an OFSAA berth with Villanova in 2011 and playing for Team Ontario in the Canadian senior women’s national championships.

“That was a great experience playing against the best players in Canada,” said Meloche. “I thank the Windsor Caboto Strikers and Steve Rogozynski for that opportunity.”

Meloche said she is looking forward to the challenge of playing in University and hopes she can make an impact in her first year. She said her goal is to be eventually be named an All-American.

“I think that’s a good goal to have,” she said.

Meloche leaves for Madonna University on August 6 for preseason.

“I’m excited and nervous all rolled into one but it’s something I want and something I’ve worked very hard for,” she said.

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