Orientation Week can be an intense start to the year for freshmen, but freshman athletes have the added intensity of juggling their first week of college while simultaneously kickstarting their college sports careers. Women’s soccer goalkeeper Kelsey Bland is one of six freshman players and four new transfer students on the team poised to take the field.
Bland was on the sidelines for the team’s first scrimmage Aug. 24 while recovering from an ankle injury, but looking ahead, the freshman business administration major is ready for whatever this year has to throw (or kick) at her.
Q: What has the transition to college soccer been like so far?
A: It’s a lot quicker, a lot more physical. It’s just a different pace of play.
Q: Did you start practice immediately after you moved in?
A: Yeah, I moved in Aug. 24. We had fitness testing that Friday on move-in day and then throughout the weekend.
Q: How did you get injured?
A: It was the second practice on Sunday. I dove and made a shot and saved it. I tried to get the rebound, but I pivoted wrong and the tendon on my calf slipped over my ankle bone.
Q: What was it like not being able to play the first week?
A: It was hard, because coming in as a freshman, I wanted that scrimmage game – because it doesn’t necessarily count towards league and it’s good to get under your belt, but it’s a process.
Q: What’s it like being on a team with so many incoming players?
A: I think that it does bring you strength. Your legs are fresh, in a way. Freshmen have a different perspective on the team – we’ve come in with different ways of playing and the other girls are used to a certain way of playing for the past couple years. We have a different perspective that, hopefully, will help the team do a little better.
Q: What are the most difficult and most rewarding aspects of being goalkeeper?
A: The most difficult aspect is probably balancing the mental challenges throughout the game, like staying focused and engaged the whole time and being able to bounce back after mistakes or a goal against. The most rewarding is making a save and working with the team to beat our opponent.
Q: What was it like to already be part of a team your first week of college?
A: It was nice, because you don’t feel super singled out. You immediately have your group of friends. We’re all in the same boat together and all working to play together as a team.
Q: How has your experience on the team been so far?
A: It’s great. We all get along super well and we’re super team-oriented. We’re all playing for each other – making sure we’re all one unit and it’s not an individual thing.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as an athlete?
A: Probably the mental side of the game. Just learning to move forward when you make a mistake or you get injured, and knowing that it just keeps going and you have to dig yourself out of that hole.
Q: What are you most excited about for the upcoming year?
A: I’m excited to get to know the team and hopefully we’ll get to the conference playoffs and win.