Aldergrove’s own Joel Waterman made history on Tuesday.
He was the first Canadian Premier League (CPL) player to sign a U.S. Soccer Federation Major League Soccer (MLS) contract.
Montreal Impact bought the playing rights of the midfielder/defender from Cavalry Football Club, which first signed Waterman in Jan. 2019.
Impact sporting director Olivier Renard was pleased to add the player to his roster.
“He’s a centre-back that can play every position in a three or four man defensive line, and also as a defensive midfielder. He’s a player with the right mentality, and he comes to Montreal following a good season in CPL,” Renard said.
Financial details of the two-year contract that transpired during the CPL’s first offseason – including a transfer fee – were not disclosed.
From Aldergrove Youth Soccer Club to Major League Soccer, Joel Waterman has exceeded even his own expectations by going pro with a game that he’s loved since he was a child.
“The fact that I’m here is amazing and it’s pretty surreal. It’s going to take me a while to let this sink in,” Waterman said from Florida where Impact are to continue training.
“I don’t think anyone expected a small-town kid from Aldergrove to make it to this level. I sure didn’t growing up. I knew I could play, but I didn’t know how far it would take me,” Waterman added.
“Now I’m just super excited to start playing again,” he said.
Nearly a year ago, the 23-year-old was signed with Calgary’s Cavalry FC after five years with the Trinity Western University (TWU) Spartans.
Waterman registered nine goals and five assists in 57 career games (48 starts) during his time with TWU. He remains the only Spartan to have signed a contract with a major league soccer club to this day.
With Cavalry FC, Waterman played 25 regular season games and three Canadian championships, helping Calgary secure the best defensive record in the league with 19 goals conceded.
Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. admitted he was sad to see Waterman go.
“He now presents another young Canadian with an opportunity to fill his shoes here,” Wheeldon assured the public in a statement.
Trailblazing through trials
The Aldergrove player admits to feeling like a “trailblazer,” having played university soccer in Canada and continuing onto a professional sports career with the United States.
On his road to professional gameplay, Waterman notched three seasons in the USL Premier Development League with the Kitsap Pumas in 2016, TSS FC Rovers in 2017, and the Calgary Foothills in 2018, with whom he won the league playoff championship.
Waterman has continued to thrive playing pro, despite a broken toe that rendered him on the sidelines for six weeks this past season.
“It’s even more surprising that I’m here now,” Waterman commented, considering he was still benched when Montreal took on the Cavalry FC.
Waterman never got to meet Impact or any of its leadership before the transfer, he said.
Waterman began playing soccer at five, inspired by both of his parents’ passion.
“I remember going and watching my mom play soccer in Aldergrove when I was little,” Waterman said. “Her and my dad absolutely loved the sport.”
His mother Vicki was his first-ever coach with the Aldergrove Youth Soccer Club (AYSC).
She has been witness to her son’s childhood dream of becoming a pro soccer player come true.
And following in her footsteps, Waterman returned to help coach AYSC’s U14 boys in past years, with the squad taking both district and league championships in 2018 and 2019.
To this day, he credits much of his success to God.
The next time Waterman is likely to return to his hometown is when Impact faces the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 6.
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After taking all the love and support in the last couple days, I’m blessed to announce my signing with @impactmontreal Thank you to God, my family, friends, teammates, coaches and everyone who has been a part of my journey so far. Had to go through a lot of no’s in my career before that one yes was enough to make my dream a reality. Takes a village and this is only the beginning🔵⚜️ JW16