Shelby Beck could have followed her brother’s lead and gone to school thousands of miles from home.
But rather than play her collegiate sports in the NCAA — older brother Colton is a freshman with the University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey team — the younger Beck is staying relatively close to home when it comes time to her post-secondary playing days in the fall.
Beck will suit up for Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Cascades, just five exits down Highway 1.
“I just felt this was the right choice,” said the 17-year-old, who is in Grade 12 at Walnut Grove Secondary.
Going to the States to play intrigued her, but Beck worried about her playing options in Canada if she didn’t like being that far from home.
And after meeting the Fraser Valley coaching staff and the team, she was sold.
“How (coach Rob Giesbrecht) talked about the program, I just knew I would love it there and I would be comfortable,” Beck explained.
Having the decision out of the way has helped clear Beck’s mind of the distraction.
“There was a lot of stress just trying to figure out what I was going to do,” she said.
It also helped that she was joining a program on the rise.
Last year, the Cascades won bronze at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships.
“It is nice knowing they already have a solid team,” she said. “It makes it more exciting to go there.”
Another factor in her decision to stay close to home was the fact she knows several of her future Cascades teammates.
Macki Shopland, Dayle Jeras and Paige Friesen will also don the Cascades jersey next season.
The 17-year-old Beck has played with Shopland since both were five years old and all four have advanced through the Langley FC system.
Shopland left the program to play for the Whitecaps prospects program, while the other three helped the Langley FC U18 Metro Mustangs advance to the B.C. Coastal Cup championship game at the end of this month.
The Cascades are getting an impact player, said Langley FC’s Shaun Mason, who has coached Beck for the past four years.
“She is very quick, very tenacious,” he said. “(And) she has a great work ethic and is very coachable.”
Her soon-to-be coach knows Beck will play a big role on his team.
“She is a proven goal scorer,” said Cascades coach Rob Giesbrecht. “She is very talented; she has a knack for scoring goals and it is hard to teach that.”
Beck will have every opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman.
“The opportunity is there for her, it is up to her to take advantage of it,” Giesbrecht said.
“She is going to be a big part of our future and I am looking for her to transfer her skills over (to us).”