By Brianna Kudisch | Echo
Once they graduate, some seniors travel quite a distance for a new job or graduate school. For senior Katie Wierenga, life after graduation looks a little different. Starting in late August, she'll play women's soccer for Northumbria University, located in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
While playing soccer at the university, Wierenga will also be enrolled in the master's program there to study interaction design. Simultaneously, she will be training with the Sunderland Association Football Club Ladies, a club team that competes in England's highest division of women's soccer.
After starting soccer in fifth grade because she liked to move around a lot-"I was really wiggly as a child"-the Grandville, Michigan, native played soccer at Tri-unity Christian High School and earned All-State honors three times, along with additional awards.
Wierenga originally came to Taylor because she wanted a more "normal" college experience. "I have already put my values straight; that's why I came to Taylor, so I could have the small atmosphere and not have soccer be all-consuming," she said. "So it is a little scary to base my future plans off of soccer, when before I purposely didn't put my life around soccer."
But through stepping out of her comfort zone while at Taylor, she acknowledged, she has grown and been equipped for many different life paths. She specifically learned through exploring the phrase "God does not call the equipped, but equips the called."
Playing soccer all four years at Taylor, mostly as a defensive midfielder, Wierenga has earned multiple awards, including All-American her senior year, which is why she's ready to continue playing soccer at a more advanced level.
Although unsure of the specifics of practices and homework load, Wierenga estimates she'll play in at least 50 games in the next nine months between the two teams. According to Wierenga, it's common for Americans to play overseas before playing professionally in the States. She tried out for the North Carolina Courage but was encouraged by her coach, Scott Stan, to play overseas for a season and then try out again for the American team afterward.
Even though Wierenga believes English players have more foot skills, the teams there like having Americans play soccer with them because of Americans' determined mentality. "I've heard that (Americans) kind of bring some life to the team, 'We're down a goal, but we're not going to lose.' We're going to go harder now," she said. "I think as a player, I have a little more heart, and they have a little more skill."
If playing professionally doesn't work out, Wierenga has other opportunities to consider. She's open to doing her own design work in a creative outlet or working on human-computer interaction for a business, a result of her double-major in computer science digital media and art.
But for now, she's ready to continue playing. "I've loved (playing) soccer at Taylor-it didn't burn me out; it just made me love it more," she said. "So I'm going to go over (to England) and get myself burnt out."