Noor Aldoori never thought varsity soccer was something achievable for her. “It [varsity soccer] was definitely not on my radar at all. The opportunity presented itself, and I took it,” she says. Mississauga native, Noor Aldoori, is in her fourth year, completing a major in Human Geography and a double minor in French Studies and Visual Culture Communication.

Aldoori joined UTM’s varsity women’s soccer team for the indoor season when she was in her second year and is now in her third year playing for UTM. Aldoori proved herself to be a very versatile player, having played every position on the field for UTM, including goal keeper. She usually plays midfield but has recently found herself playing more defense, especially during the indoor season. While Aldoori prefers midfield and having the ability to move up the field, she highlights defence—“I really enjoy playing defense. Fitness wise, it’s a lot less tiring to play defence. It’s a very important position. I feel like I have a larger duty, more responsibility, because I’m the last call before the duty. I’m a big advocate for defense over offense.”

Humber varsity soccer legend, Hall of Famer and UTM varsity women’s soccer assistant coach, Sonia Carreiro, has nothing but high praise for Aldoori. “Noor has been an instrumental part of our team, showing dedication to her game both on and of the pitch. She is committed to becoming a stronger athlete, always asking how she can become a better player—which is a coach’s dream. It’s been an honour coaching her for 3 years. She truly cares about her teammates. She’s always encouraging them and makes sure to show leadership through her actions,” says Carreiro.

Aldoori grew up surrounded by soccer. “My father is a huge Liverpool fan, so soccer’s just been ingrained in my life since I was kid. Literally, there are baby photos of me with soccer on the TV in the background,” says Aldoori. Some of her favourite moments as a child come from the times she spent with her father watching weekend soccer matches with him, and the rest of their family. Aldoori’s father is also known for his tendency to stress iron during important matches. “He likes to iron his shirts in the morning—he actually hates ironing. He likes to get it out of the way. But he tends to do it more when he’s stressed and watching a game he really cares about.”

Naturally, Aldoori and her sister fell in love with soccer as well, playing in house league soccer teams since they were 4. While they were involved in a lot of sports, when they became more serious and competitive, they chose to focus on just one sport: soccer. “Soccer was always number one, always,” says Aldoori.

Aldoori’s soccer journey went on a brief hiatus in high school, a decision she regrets. “When you’re young you don’t really have a lot of confidence; you don’t make the best decisions. At the time, I thought it was the right one because I was getting busier with high school and getting ready for university.” Aldoori never believed she’d ever play at the varsity level, doubting her ability to play at such a high level. Her TA at the time, and captain of the team, UTM varsity soccer alumni, Jennifer Soehner, inspired Noor to pursue her love of soccer. “I saw her [Soehner] wearing her [varsity soccer] tracksuit and I remember walking by the gym window to see the team practicing. And thinking to myself, ‘Man, I really miss soccer’.” Feeling motivated in her first year at UTM, Aldoori went to the gym a lot. Soehner was a big proponent of her decision to play for UTM, encouraging Aldoori to come out to a practice. “It was a quick process. I came to practice, had my concussion test done, and I was at a tournament the following week.”

Though she initially had doubts about her ability to play at a high level, Aldoori’s coach and teammates can attest to how invaluable she’s become to their team, both on and off the pitch. “Noor brings passion to our team. She truly cares for the players, those that have graduated from the program, current teammates and even potential recruits looking to wear the blue and white. Noor brings that fun aspect to the game, but when it’s time to focus, she’s one of the first ones ready to take on the challenge,” says coach Carreiro.

Aldoori not only plays varsity soccer for UTM, both indoor and outdoor, but she works with UTM athletics as part of the UTM Intramurals and Varsity Officiating Staff. Aldoori became a part of UTM Intramurals to follow her best friend and teammate, last year’s Female Athlete of the Year, Jayde Forde. She is a referee for Intramural Soccer, and a part of the Game Crew Officiating Staff for Varsity Basketball. Former Intramurals Coordinator, Cameron Walker, was instrumental in mentoring Aldoori into becoming a referee for soccer. “You know the rules, go ref.” She did, and now she not only referees UTM Intramurals but Extramural tournaments as well.

Her daringness to step outside of her comfort zone has been rewarded. In the 2016/2017 season, Aldoori was awarded Referee of the Year, an award she received again the following year. The following year also received the UTM Student Leadership Award and UTM Varsity Women’s Indoor Soccer MVP.

“A lot of things you don’t do out of fear can really be your worst enemy. Sometimes you just have to break that wall and be like ‘what’s the worst that can happen, be confident in yourself’,” she says. It’s that confidence, especially as a woman in a heavily male dominated field, that helps her assert herself so everyone listens and respects her.

Aldoori credits her growth as an individual to being a part of the UTM athletic community. “I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s become a place I can express myself. It’s also been the place where I’ve established a lot of strong, and life-long relationships. I know people who don’t know a soul on campus. I can walk down the halls and say hi to people I know, and it’s been amazing, feeling like I’m a part of something. It also keeps me centered.”

Aldoori’s favourite thing about these past few years is witnessing all the transitions. UTM continues to assert itself, year after year, as a competitive team in the OCAA. But it’s not just the varsity program changes, but the changes in team dynamic as well. “My favourite part has to be growing with the team. We were all in our shells in first year, and now we’ve become leaders on the team.”

Jayde Forde, her best friend and former teammate is proud of how far Aldoori has come in her athletic and academic journey. “I want her to continue to strive for success, both on the pitch and for herself. She has so much insight for the game, and you know as a teammate you can trust her to perform. She’s always making sure to motivate others. She’s an amazing teammate, friend, and even better person. I want nothing but success for her as she finishes her career at UTM, and in her life after. She deserves all the success she has coming to her,” Forde says.

Aldoori’s established herself as a true and confident leader, who isn’t afraid of a challenge. She’s come a long way in her career at UTM. She’s become a strong leader, and a testament to what can be possible when you never give up on yourself and push beyond your boundaries. We look forward to seeing the breadth of her legacy, as Aldoori approaches her final season with UTM.