The TRU WolfPack men's soccer team is to open training camp Friday at Hillside Stadium.
And it is welcoming back a couple of familiar faces, too.
Justin Wallace, a third-year midfielder from Kamloops, is returning after spending two seasons with the Simon Fraser Clan. He was named the NCAA Division II's newcomer of the year in 2011. Last season, he helped the Clan to the Division II final tournament.
Also returning to the WolfPack is Braeden Burrows, another Kamloopsian. A Pacific Western Athletic Association all-star in 2011, Burrows missed all of last season with an injury.
The two returnees will add to a team that lost only one player to graduation and has three others not returning.
"We have every reason to be optimistic but then again at this time year we should be," said WolfPack co-head coach Sean Wallace. "It will be great to get the guys back together on Friday. We begin with fitness tests. Players moan about it but it gives us some good guidelines where the players are at."
Wallace is excited to have Justin, his oldest son and the conference's rookie of the year in 2010, and Burrows back in the fold for the team's final season before it moves into the CIS.
"We hope to benefit from Justin's two years in the SFU program," Sean Wallace said. " It would have been quite an accomplishment for him to play four years of NCAA soccer, but he is back. I support his decision to return home and I know he will lead us this year and be a cornerstone when we enter CIS next season. From a parent's point of view, I am happy to have him home."
As for Burrows, Wallace added: "I think the world of Braeden. He competes at any position I have played him at over the last four years. He is one of those players who makes our team better the minute he steps on the field. He'll make our middle even tougher."
A number of WolfPack players spent the summer with the Kamloops Heat of the Pacific Coast Soccer League's Premier Division. That group included Kyle Fertile, a fourth-year player from Kamloops, and sophomore Dion Gouldsborough of Summerland.
"I told Kyle that if he plays to his potential that he will be very good," Wallace said. "He helps the guys around him. Dion is a young player and I think working with Justin this year will help him. If he arrives in shape and works hard, he will utilize his potential. I'm hoping he doesn't fall victim to a sophomore jinx."
TRU also will rely on third-year goalkeeper Travis Froehlich of Revelstoke. He played this summer in Penticton and led the Pinnacles to the PCSL's U21 crown.
"He will be a key component to our group as he is in a position of importance," TRU co-head coach John Antulov said. "As a coaching staff, we hope he continues to improve and mature and that will help."
The WolfPack is scheduled to follow up fitness tests on Friday with some skill work. Small-sided games are set for Saturday with intrasquad matches on Sunday.
On Saturday, they will play an exhibition game against the U of Fraser Valley Cascades, a CIS team. That game, at Exhibition Park, is to begin at 3:30 p.m.
CORNER KICKS:Austin Schneebli, who is from Salmon Arm, will miss the season due to a torn ACL. When healthy, he still will have four years of eligibility remaining. . . . TRU opens regular-season play at home against the Capilano Blues on Sept. 7. Game time at Hillside Stadium will be 3:15 p.m.
(Compiled from a TRU news release)