(FREDERICTON, NB) The 2022-2023 season was going to be the first without a Simpson on a UNB REDS roster since 2015-2016.
But, somewhat unexpectedly, Laughlin Simpson will continue the family legacy.
The 20-year-old Forestry student has joined the REDS men’s soccer team’s goalkeeping corps.
“I’m happy to keep the Simpson legacy alive,” he said. “As a Simpson, I’m proud of what my brother and sister accomplished here, and I’m hoping to play as crucial a role on the soccer team as they did on UNB’s basketball teams.”
Laughlin’s sister, Grace, was a member of the REDS women’s basketball team from 2015-16 until 2019-20. She played in 69 Atlantic University Sport regular games.
His brother, Sterling, spent five seasons with the men’s basketball team, appearing in 49 regular season games, and helping the REDS capture the 2017-18 AUS championship.
“Being part of the REDS means a lot to me,” said Laughlin. “Growing up here in Fredericton, the REDS were local legends in my eyes. Being able to wear the UNB jersey now makes me proud of where my soccer career has taken me.”
Simpson was a late addition to the soccer team’s training camp and has emerged as the REDS’ number two keeper.
“Laughlin and I had not discussed him playing university soccer until just a couple of weeks ago,” said REDS head coach Barry Morrison. “I think he’s got tremendous capacity to grow and develop within our program. His job is simple. He needs to push himself and Louis-Charles (Vaillancourt), our number one keeper, every day, and be at his best and be ready to step in and play when needed.”
While they hadn’t discussed Simpson joining the team until recently, Simpson has been on Morrison’s radar screen for a while.
A veteran of Fredericton District Soccer Association Premiership teams, he played varsity soccer at Fredericton High School and trained under Morrison’s eye in joint FDSA-UNB winter programs.
“I think Barry wanted me to be part of the group because I’m an easy-going person who can reflect on my mistakes and seek to improve my flaws,” said Simpson. “I think Barry sees the passion I have for soccer and knew how excited I’d be for this opportunity.”
After several years of watching his siblings on the Currie Centre court, Simpson is eager to reverse roles.
“Grace and Sterling have told me they’re proud of what I’m doing,” said Laughlin. “They will try to be at our home games and tune in to our away games.”
“I’m happy and excited to be able to keep watching one of my brothers play,” said Grace. “I always planned on continuing to watch and support the REDS, but it’s so much more fun to do that when you’re watching family.”
A skilled keeper, Simpson, like his siblings, played basketball in his younger years.
“I played basketball growing up but realized my love for soccer was stronger than the pull of the game of basketball,” he said. “I took up winter soccer (in UNB’s dome) and haven’t looked back.”
Morrison feels the experience of Simpson’s siblings will benefit Laughlin.
“Having people around you that know what it takes to be a successful student-athlete and who are able to support you will be a great help,” he said.
Simpson says his goals are simple. He wants to raise his skill level, and says his teammates are providing him with the needed motivation to do that. Long term, he wants to become the team’s number one keeper.
Coming off a win in Moncton on Sunday, Simpson and his REDS teammates host the Dalhousie Tigers in their home opener, on Saturday, at BMO Centre. That game is scheduled to start at 3:15pm.
STORY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTO: UNB Media Services