After being scouted by five schools, Sarah Kinzner has chosen to continue her soccer training at the University of Colorado

Growing up many of us dream of being professional musicians, actors or sports stars. For one young woman in Calgary, her dream has taken another step towards becoming a reality. At only 17 years old, Sarah Kinzner will be heading to the University of Colorado Boulder in July. Kinzner has been referred to as the “poster girl” for the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club by her coach Colin Mackay.

He says that Kinzner has a lot of potential to compete at this college level but also that she looks to face the biggest challenge of her young career as she transitions into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

According to their website, the NCAA a non-profit association that organizes the athletic programs of many universities and colleges in the United States as well as at a smaller scale in Canada. It is dedicated to looking after the well being of student athletes and allowing for the development of skills to succeed in their chosen sport and throughout their lives.

Having recently signed a letter of intent to the University of Colorado, Kinzner says she is very excited to be leaving this July to become a part of the women’s soccer team.

As with many students who go away for school, Kinzner believes that her biggest challenge won’t be faced on the field, but instead will be faced when she has to leave her family and hometown.

“I think its going to be a little tough mentally, also leaving home and being away from my family and stuff, that will be a big change,” Kinzner says. “But, I think that it will be a good challenge and it will help me grow as a player and as a person.”Sarah Kinzner says extra hours and practice will help her improve and prepare following her de-cision to sign with the University of Colorado Boulder.

Photo by Jesse Buchholz

However, this won’t be the first time that Kinzner has been out of the country to compete in soccer. In fact, she is no stranger to international play, having played in both the Under 17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica as well as the Under 20 Women’s World Cup in Canada last year.

Kinzner was the youngest player on the Under 20 Women’s team as well as the only Albertan to be on the final roster. She will return to play with the Women’s Under 20 team this summer when Canada hosts the Women’s World Cup.

“Training with the older girls definitely opened my eyes and gave me a great experience to improve,” Kinzner says of the Costa Rica tournament last year. “I feel like that has developed me into a player who is ready to make the step into the NCAA.”

Looking at the number of women soccer players that play out of Canada alone, Mackay says that very few are given the opportunity to attend a university and compete at the NCAA level. He considers Kinzner to be one of the very best players to come through the Foothills soccer program in a very long time.

“Sarah is probably one of very few to get a full ride scholarship, so we’re proud of her.”

“We’ve been to a number of showcase tournaments over the last two or three years, and every time we go there’s five or six schools looking at her,” Mackay says.

Kinzner shows off what she considers to be her biggest asset moving forward, her dribbling skill and capability.

Photo by Jesse BuchholzAs of 2013, the NCAA published a research study that estimated exactly how many players from high school make it to the college level and how many college players make it to the professional level. While women’s soccer was not on the list for this particular research project, it is interesting to note that within the study the NCAA states that, “There are more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, and fewer than two percent will go pro in their sports.”

The study which consisted of football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer and men and women’s basketball states later that the experiences and life lessons allow the athletes who do not go professional to gain skills in their future careers.

If she can have it her way, the development at the college level will not only improve her game further, but the NCAA will be including Kinzner’s name in the two per cent that actually do make it.

“For me its all about putting those extra hours in by yourself, going out to the field when no one is watching and taking those extra shots, extra dribbles and touches just to improve.”

Jbuchholz@cjournal.ca