Karina LeBlanc, Brittany Timko inducted to Canada Soccer Hall of Fame

Canada Soccer announced Wednesday the inductees of the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, awarding the distinguished honour to long-serving women’s national team standouts Karina LeBlanc and Brittany Timko Baxter.

“Canada Soccer is honoured to welcome Karina LeBlanc and Brittany Timko Baxter to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020,” said Steven Reed, Canada Soccer President. “Karina and Brittany have been part of a historic era for our Women’s National Team Program, from winning a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games to each representing their country more than 100 times.”

LeBlanc, 39, is a well-known and well-respected figure in Canadian soccer circles for her work as both a goalkeeper for the Canadian women’s national team – where she represented Les Rouges 110 times from 1998 to 2015 – as well as through her role as the Head of Women’s Football at CONCACAF, the region’s governing body.

You can add UNICEF ambassador, FIFA Legend, Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy, two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, and on-air personality to her resume, too, and you can see why LeBlanc’s spot in the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame is merited on more than her achievements on the pitch … though her on-field contributions are also worthy of note.

With five FIFA Women’s World Cups under her belt, LeBlanc was a key member of the Canadian women’s national team for nearly two decades, helping secure a Bronze Medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London as part of the historic team that is now very-much a part of the country’s soccer lore.

Karina Leblanc of the Canadian Women's National Team. (photo: Canada Soccer).
Karina LeBlanc of the Canadian women’s national team. (Photo: Canada Soccer).

LeBlanc, who was born in Georgia and grew up in Maple Ridge, B.C. from the age of eight, made her professional club debut in 2001 with the Boston Breakers of the Women’s United Soccer Association, the first professional women’s soccer league with full pay in the world. She also featured for other teams in other regional and national leagues, including the New Jersey Wildcats and the Los Angeles Sol, as well as Sky Blue FC, the Portland Thorns, and the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

The University of Nebraska alumnus is currently working out of Miami, tasked with leading Concacaf’s efforts to “strengthen and grow the women’s game throughout the Concacaf region” with a focus on “developing women’s football throughout the entire Concacaf region increasing opportunities for women in the sport across multiple areas including through grassroots and competitions platforms, refereeing, development, and administration.”

Said LeBlanc: “Thank you Canada Soccer for this remarkable honour to join such a prestigious group of people as part of the Class of 2020 alongside Brittany Timko in the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame. As a kid I dreamed of playing for my country, but never did I imagine that my dream would lead me to the Hall of Fame as a individual. This means so much to me as this truly is the best of the best of soccer in Canada.”

Brittany Baxter (neé Timko), 34, is a Canadian woman’s national team icon with a joint-sixth overall 132 caps for Les Rouges, whom she featured for from 2002 to 2014. Her club career has seen Timko travel all across the world, playing for clubs like the Vancouver Whitecaps in her native B.C., Melbourne Victory in Australia, Pitea IF in Sweden, SGS Essen in Germany, and the Seattle Sounders in the U.S.

Timko quickly turned heads on the international stage, in particular at the 2004 U-19 FIFA Women’s World Championship in Thailand, where she scored seven goals, winning the Golden Boot and being named to the all-star team of the tournament.

Brittany Timko Baxter in action for Canada in 2014. (Photo: Canada Soccer).
Brittany Timko Baxter in action for Canada in 2014. (Photo: Canada Soccer).

Aside from a torn ACL in 2008, Timko was a mainstay in the Canadian women’s national team lineup for a decade, and she was also member of the 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning CanWNT team, too. Since her retirement in 2014, Timko has gone on to serve as the head girl’s soccer coach of the Port Moody Soccer Association in British Columbia.

“Thank you to Canada Soccer for this incredible honour to join my idols into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020,” Timko said. “It’s even more special that I get to do it alongside a mentor, friend and sister in Karina LeBlanc. Thank you to all the players who came before me to help a five-year old girl dream of one day wearing the maple leaf and representing Canada.”

Both LeBlanc and Timko join the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame as 2020 inductees, immortalizing their achievements for their country and to the beautiful game.