That’s some serious footy fluency: Trojans’ Hoyeck speaks four languages
October 16, 2012
CALGARY — These footloose gals on the SAIT Trojans women’s soccer team seem to be speaking the same language this fall. And when they’re not, Elizabeth Hoyeck can always fill them in.
Born in Venezuela, raised in Abu Dhabi, schooled in Montreal, Hoyeck (2nd year, Calgary, environmental technology) is a rather worldly young woman. And she’s got more than souvenirs and passport stamps to show for it — she can speak four languages.
“Well . . . let’s say three-and-a-quarter,” says Hoyeck, 21, with a laugh.
A sophomore utility player for the Trojans, Hoyeck is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and also speaks Arabic — with each one of those languages representing a special part of her family history or period in her life.
“With my mom (Gladys), we mostly speak Spanish around the house . . . Spanglish, really. With my brother (Jean-Pierre) and sister (Yvette), it’s English,” she says. “And with my dad (Michel), it’s Spanish or English — but back in the day, when I was doing homework with him, he insisted I speak in French.”
Hoyeck’s father, who works in the oilpatch, is from Lebanon, while her mother is from Venezuela. Two decades ago, because of the first Gulf War, Elizabeth was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The family relocated back to the Middle East when she was just an infant, and about a year later, the Hoyecks came to Canada and settled in Montreal, where Elizabeth would later be enrolled in a private French school.
The one language that suffered somewhat was Arabic, since Elizabeth’s father worked primarily in Oman as she was growing up — so she remedied that situation this past summer by visiting her dad’s side of the family in the country once known as the Switzerland of the East. “I’m sure I made a fool out of myself most of the time,” says a humble Hoyeck. “I was able to contribute, and throw some words in . . . but I also told my relatives: ‘If you want me to learn, you need to speak really slowly.’
“Back here at home, we’re really involved in the Venezuelan community. There’s the culture, the food, the dancing . . . the (annual) Expo Latino is awesome to me; it’s almost like going back home,” she adds. “Because of my exposure to that, my Spanish is really fluent . . . a lot of people don’t even know I’ve never lived in Venezuela, because I have the accent.”
This fall, the Trojans (4-3-2) have captured an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoff berth for the first time since 2002. They'll enter ACAC provincials, being hosted by Edmonton's MacEwan University Griffins from Oct. 26 to 28, as the South Division's third seed.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hoyeck is blessed with the same versatility on the pitch as she is in the area of linguistics. The Trojans’ rookie of the year in 2011 is adept enough to play up front, at midfield, or at the back end, depending on the offensive scheme and the opponent. She's third in team scoring, with three goals in nine outings.
“She has a really great work ethic. She’s a grinder out there. And she’s a very coachable player. She’s always asking what she needs to work on, constantly asking for feedback, and once we tell her what we want from her, we see the improvement,” says third-year Trojans apprentice coach Erin Schwab.
“We’ve asked her to play several different positions in the past couple of seasons. She’s so adaptable.”
This year's group of Trojans seem to have formed some pretty rare chemistry — and Hoyeck says they’ve set the bar pretty high as a group, going as far as to target Canadian Colleges Athletic Association nationals, being hosted by Charlottetown’s Holland College from Nov. 7 to 10.
“The rookies have really impressed me this year. Playing-wise and personality-wise, we’ve all clicked,” she says. “The mentality is also different. Last year it was: ‘Let’s win a couple of games.’ This year it’s: ‘Let’s go to P.E.I.’ ”