By: Nicole Grazioli '12
Your senior year of high school revolves around finding that right college for you for your next four years. For college soccer freshman Katie Speidel (KS), the right college for her was Santa Clara. The Oak Park, Calif. native is currently going through her first year at the Mission Campus and thoroughly enjoying herself.
On the field, the midfielder has made an impact after scoring her first collegiate goal versus Cal off a cross from Olivia Klei to help the Broncos with a 3-0 win over the then No. 17 Golden Bears. While not playing soccer, Speidel has experienced the freshman life so far with her first year of dorm living, cafeteria food, new friends and the quarter system and she is loving every minute of it.
SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) spoke with Speidel about her freshman experience, who she looks up to on the team and what advice she has for high school soccer seniors.
SCU: Why did you choose Santa Clara?
KS: I chose Santa Clara not only because of the prestigious soccer program, but also because of its impressive academic reputation. Santa Clara's community is one of a kind - everyone is so accepting and welcoming here. Also, there's a sense of pride that comes with being a part of this community. These things are what set SCU apart from the other schools I was considering.
SCU: Was it an easy transition for you?
KS: At first, I thought it was an abnormally easy transition, but as time went on, the effect of the changes hit me. It's much different than the comfort of being at home, but I have felt really comfortable here from the start. All of the freshmen have been able to band together and help each other though this transition period, which is what really helped me stay level-headed.
SCU: What do you like most about SCU?
KS: As I said earlier, the most impressive thing about SCU in my opinion is the sense of community and caring for others in the school. Whether it is the support from students at our games, or just a friendly smile in the hall, the community really makes an effort to reach out and it's a very cool thing to be a part of.
SCU: Did you always want to play soccer in college?
KS: Yes, I always knew that I wanted to play college soccer. At first, it was a childhood dream, but as I grew older I motivated myself to make it a reality. It has been an incredible experience, and I'm not even half-way through my first season!
SCU: What is the difference between high school and college soccer?
KS: I can't begin to count the differences between high school and collegiate soccer - the speed of play, physicality, talent level of the opponents and commitment level are just some of the main differences between the two. Club soccer is the most similar to the college game, but it really is a whole new level.
SCU: Who do you look up to most on the team?
KS: I can honestly say that all of my teammates inspire each other to become better players and people. However, I think the person that I look up to the most is Bianca Henninger. She has achieved so much in her life, with both soccer and academics and you would never know it from her encouraging and supportive attitude on and off the field. She is a role model for everyone on the team and also fans and young children who support SCU women's soccer.
SCU: What kind of feelings did you have going into your first collegiate game?
KS: To be completely honest, I was mortified. I didn't want to make any mistakes, especially as a wide defender, where there is so much at risk. Once we settled into the game, I became a lot more comfortable and confident and was able to get into the rhythm of the game. It was an amazing feeling playing with my team for the first time.
SCU: How did you feel after scoring your goal against CAL?
KS: I was really excited when I scored because it solidified a win against Cal, which was a big game for us. Olivia Klei served a perfect ball and I happened to be in the right place at the right time - it was a great feeling!
SCU: How have you been balancing school and soccer?
KS: Soccer and school have been two of my priorities throughout the majority my life, so I'm used to having to balance both at the same time. The busy schedule keeps me focused and helps me with my time management because most of my day is already scheduled without much free time. Everything else revolves around classes and practice/game times.
SCU: What dorm do you live in? How do you like dorm life?
KS: I'm living in Campisi Hall, along with the majority of the other freshmen soccer players. It's great to have teammates in the same building, but it's also a new experience to meet new people down the hall who have different interests. The residents living in Campisi are very community-oriented, which I think is great. Plus, it has air conditioning!
SCU: What major are you currently or considering? Why?
KS: Currently I'm undecided. I'm interested in so many things so I want to take as many interesting classes as I can to try and narrow down my options.
SCU: What has been your favorite class this quarter?
KS: I have enjoyed all of my classes this quarter so far, but I'm really interested in my "Critical Thinking and Writing: Ancient Egypt" course. Dr. Wade teaches the course with such passion and knows so much about the Egyptian culture, which excites the rest of the students in the class. It's also an uncommon class, so it has been a great opportunity to learn something new.
SCU: Do you have a favorite meal/station at Benson?
KS: I absolutely love cereal, so I'm pretty sure I have been to that station of the cafeteria every day since the beginning of school! The food in Benson and in the Bronco is great!
SCU: What advice would you give seniors interested in pursuing a soccer career in college?
KS: All I would say to those athletes is that if you get a chance to pursue an opportunity like this, don't pass it up – it's life changing. I've been on campus for about three months now and I have already made some of my greatest friends, had some of the best times of my life and have become a part of something that not many people get a chance to experience. I'm thrilled with my decision to come to Santa Clara and wouldn't have it any other way.
The Bronco women's soccer team will be playing its next match at Portland at 7pm on October 21 and will be featured on ESPNU.