Where Are They Now: Hilla Rantala
Jan. 18, 2007
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Throughout this off-season, kuathletics.com will check in with former Jayhawks and see what they have been up to since their days in the Crimson and Blue. Today, we profile Hilla Rantala, who played at KU from 1999-2001.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
Rantala began her career with Coach Mark Francis at South Alabama and then transferred to KU in 1999, along with Francis. In her first season, she was the Jayhawks’ leading scorer, putting up five goals and six assists. After missing most of the 2000 season, Rantala came back in 2001 and helped push the team to its first NCAA Tournament with a 10-goal, 12-assist season. With her efforts, she became the first Jayhawk to tally double-digits in both categories in the same season.
In 2001, Rantala was named to the NSCAA All-Central Region Second Team as well as the Soccer Buzz All-Central Region Third Team. She was also just the second Jayhawk to be named All-Big 12 (Pardis Brown, 2000), when she was selected to the second team in 2001. The forward was also the first Jayhawk to be selected as Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
Where are you living and working now?
HR: Lawrence, KS, finishing my Ph.D. in Finance at KU. Right now, I’m working as graduate teaching assistant.
How has your academic experience and/or your degree from KU assisted you in your chosen career?
HR: My undergrad degree in economics gave me a solid foundation to pursue several fields in graduate school.
What made you decide to come to KU to play soccer?
HR: I was at the University of South Alabama my first two years, when Mark Francis was the coach there. When he got the job here at KU, I decided to transfer.
What is one thing you miss most about being a student-athlete?
HR: Being around my friends every day.
What was the best thing about being a Jayhawk?
HR: Being a small part of history of great athletes and tradition.
Name one lesson that playing soccer at KU has taught you.
HR: Leaving everything on the field at every practice and game pays off because you’ll never have regrets that you could have done more.
What lasting memory do you have of playing soccer at KU?
HR: Watching the NCAA draw and making it to the tournament for the first time in school history (and of course beating those Tigers on our senior day).
From the time you arrived at KU to now, what do you see as the biggest difference in the soccer program?
HR: The biggest change in the program since my first year at Kansas has been the level of commitment of the players and the amount of support the team receives from the athletic department.
What advice would you give to the current team?
HR: Life goes on after it is all over. Don’t forget to focus on your careers outside of athletics and pick a major that is challenging AND a major that leads to a job that pays money after you graduate, so you don’t have to go and leach off your parents after graduation.