A competitive soccer player who hails from the hamlet of Langdon is relishing the opportunity to compete with and against some of Alberta's best players this summer, thanks to a new league that caters to the province's professional prospects.
Nineteen-year-old striker Cheyenne Lehmann is donning the green and white hooped jersey of Foothills Soccer Club this summer, as a member of the Calgary-based club's new League 1 Alberta women's team.
“I’m super excited,” Lehmann said. “I think this is a great opportunity for me personally, as well as for the growth of Canadian soccer in general.”
League 1 Alberta is a new concept, following in the footsteps of similar leagues in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C. League 1 Alberta's inaugural season features high-level amateur squads from both Calgary and Edmonton.
Considered one level below professional, the league is composed of players who hope to use it as a springboard to a professional career in the sport.
“There are so many amazing players in this league, and that’s giving me such a great opportunity to grow, learn, and experience playing against the best players across Alberta,” Lehmann said.
There is both a men's and women's division this year, and the season is running as an exhibition series before launching as a full-fledged league next year.
Lehmann's team is already off to a dominant start – in their first game of the exhibition series, Foothills shut out the Edmonton Scottish in an emphatic 10-0 victory on May 13.
“It was really good for us,” she said. “We definitely performed. It was exciting to be able to play and experience that higher level.”
While she only played the last 30 minutes of the game, Lehmann felt she made a positive impact, considering the bulk of Foothills' goals (seven) came while she was on the pitch.
Considering she's played against Scottish before and considers the Edmontonians a good team, Lehmann predicts Foothills' heavy-handed win could be a sign of things to come for the remainder of the summer.
“I think Foothills is going to have a very dominant season,” she said. “I just think we have a great team and a great group of girls, and we’re going to showcase that this season.”
In addition to playing for Foothills' League 1 team this summer, Lehmann said she also has the opportunity to train with the club's pro-am team: Foothills WFC. They compete in the United Women's Soccer (UWS) league, against semi-pro opposition from western Canada and even the United States.
Foothills' pro-am team was formed in 2017 and has been consistently competitive in UWS ever since, twice making it to the league's championship game.
Lehmann is well aware of the semi-pro team's accomplishments, having gone to many of Foothills' games when she was growing up.
“It was always great to go see them play,” she said. “I’ve been around most of the players for a long time, and know some of the girls very well.”
When the League 1 Alberta exhibition series is wrapped up in early August, Lehmann will head east to play post-secondary soccer for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. She enjoyed a strong rookie season in 2022, finishing her first year of U SPORTS soccer with five goals in 15 appearances and being named to the Canada West all-rookie team.
The Huskies enjoyed relative success last fall, finishing fourth in the Prairie Division of Canada West to qualify for the playoffs. However, the season ended on a slightly more sour note, as the U of S went out of the post-season early.
With a year of university soccer under her belt, Lehmann said she's excited to see how her sophomore campaign fares.
“The beginning of last season, I got to start my first two games,” she said. “I was very nervous and you could tell. I didn’t score my first goal until midway through the season. As soon as I got a goal under my belt, I loosened up and then I gained confidence from there.”
Before she signed for the Huskies, Lehmann played Tier 1 youth soccer for Foothills teams growing up. She also suited up for her high-school team, the St. Gabriel Archangel Angels, of Chestermere, for two years.
In her Grade 10 season, Lehmann helped St. Gabe's win the Division 3 title in the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association. While her Grade 11 season was cancelled as a result of the pandemic, she said she was able to play her senior year, which ended with the Chestermerians making it to the Division 3 playoffs.
As a proud Langdonite, she said she's happy to represent the small hamlet whenever she puts on her cleats – be it for Foothills or the U of S Huskies.
“I love that I’m from a hamlet,” she said. “It was a great experience growing up there.”