Home Canadian Soccer How soccer changes a life: The incredible story of Lindsay Butler

How soccer changes a life: The incredible story of Lindsay Butler

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Lindsay Butler
Lindsay Butler
Lindsay Butler was 26 years of age when she decided to return to the game of soccer. Her husband had been dispatched to Afghanistan for the year. She was a young mom.

That was six years ago, when she joined a team made up of single moms. And, Butler, who was a basketball standout in college with the Grant MacEwan Griffins, found out she was pretty good using her feet. She had played soccer as a girl, but playing in the lowest division of the Edmonton women’s league reignited her passion from the game.

Last season, at the age of 31, she was at the Vancouver Whitecaps’ W-League camp. The coaching staff offered her the chance to come back for the 2013 season before they found out that the W-League team was going to be folded.

Talk about a late bloomer.

“The game got me through a very rough patch in my life, and I intend to keep going until my body won’t let me anymore,” she said.

This season, Butler has scored 19 times in 14 matches for Northwest United, and will lead the team into the Alberta provincials this weekend. Northwest United finished second in the Alberta Major Soccer League (highest level of soccer in the province) standings with an 11-2-1 record and a goal difference of, gulp, plus-39.

“Yes, I think we have a very good shot of going to nationals,” she said. “We are two games away.”

Butler is now a single mom. She’s gone back to school to become a registered nurse. And soccer is what brings her emotional strength. You have to wonder “what if” had Butler kept with soccer during her teen years. The fact that the Whitecaps had looked at her at being a thirtysomething rookie makes you stop and wonder.

But her tale is about the good that soccer can do for a person. How it can help build a life.

Since returning to the game to play with those new moms, she has risen up the ranks. Each year, she’d move up a division, trying out for a bigger club. By 28, she was going to AMSL. Meanwhile, at Concordia University-College, she became the captain of the soccer team — and she’s also the squad’s fitness trainer. She’s was the 2012 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference player of the year. She’s been an all-Canadian twice.

Oh, and to help defray her education costs, she went back to basketball, too, playing for Concordia this past winter.

Butler, right, training with Canada's best-ever women's player, Christine Sinclair.
Butler, right, training with Canada’s best-ever women’s player, Christine Sinclair.
“Each year, I’d try to move up a division, to try out. And each time, I made it,” said Butler. “I’m a very competitive person at heart. I love the way that sport makes you feel.”

Then, in 2012, came the offer to trial for the Whitecaps, where she was surrounded by girls almost half her age.

“It was thrilling. Of course, I wondered, ‘can I play with these girls?’ I was real nervous. I wasn’t too familiar with them. But I found out I was able to compete with them. The camp was in the middle to the end of the season, so the coaches told me they’d invite me back for next year, that they had me in their top 25 and could see me making the team.”

The Whitecaps folded the team, though. But, even had the Whitecaps left the team intact, Butler is pretty sure she would not have answered the call. She’s a mom, and she’s prepping for a new career — and playing semipro soccer in Canada’s most expensive city in which to live wouldn’t have been fair to her kids.

“At that time, I could not have uprooted my family,” she said. “I’m a single mom now, I’m on my own. I want to finish my RN. The team said it would have helped with the living costs, but I still have school. I know what I can do and I am open to any opportunity that comes in the future. I was hopeful about FC Edmonton setting up a women’s team, but that’s for high-school girls at the moment. Hopefully, something will come up.”

Butler also coaches at Edmonton’s Mount Carmel Academy. She’s giving back to the game that, over the past six years, has given her so much.

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