In Their Own Words: Kaitlyn Cunningham

March 18, 2008

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

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Once again during the 2008 season, members of the Kansas soccer team will share their thoughts in the first person. Today, freshman forward Kaitlyn Cunningham speaks about her first year in the Crimson and Blue as well as adjusting from soccer at the high school to the college level.

On why she chose Kansas:

“One of the biggest reasons was, on my visit a lot places in Lawrence – like Massachusetts Street – reminded me a lot of my town’s (Geneva, Illinois) downtown. It made me feel like I was at home and I got that homey feeling. It made me feel like I could fit in pretty well.”

On being watched by college coaches while in high school:

“It is very nerve-wracking. I actually have a brother who is a year younger than me that is going through the same thing right now. It’s weird because I think guys handle it better than girls do, because they are more confident and cocky about themselves. When I was being watched by coaches I would freak out and put a lot of pressure on myself to play well. You can really psyche yourself out. I didn’t even know that Kansas had seen me play. They contacted my club coach about their interest and my coach told me to send them my recruiting information.”

On the other schools that she was considering attending school at:

“I was talking to Northern Illinois a little bit. I had barely gotten into talking to schools before I sent my stuff to Kansas and then I was done. My club coach was a little worried about my decision coming so quickly, but I love it here.”

On the transition from high school to college:

“It was extremely hard being away from home because mom and dad aren’t right there for you. I was really home sick at first. I had know most of the girls from playing with them at a camp (during high school), so we knew each other, but it was completely a fresh start.”

“At school back at home, I would attend extra practices and do a lot of weight lifting on the side, so I was always crunched for time. Traveling (to games) was the hardest part to get used to by far.”

On how the travel may have affected the team:

“I think the time change, especially with our trip to Hawaii made us really tired. Once we got more into the flow of travel it got easier. I am excited to open at home next year.”

On the freshman class:

“I think we have a lot of different personalities and with our differences we occasionally get into bickering matches, but we aren’t afraid to sit down and talk with each other. If somebody has a problem we help them out. We can go out and have fun or we can just sit around watching a movie together and have a blast.”

On how her game changed after she became more confident:

“We have individual meetings with the coaches and we all agreed that I started out slow during the season. We use heart rate monitors and coach noticed that I wasn’t necessarily working as hard as I should have been. After I scored my first goal against Texas Tech it was a big confidence booster. I felt like I could finally fit in around here after that.”

On the spring:

“My big thing is I am concentrating on the things that the coaches told me to focus on. I think I just need to work on the little things and try to put them into the games. One big thing that I need to work on is my left foot.”

On how her comfort level changed:

“I always felt like I fit in with the girls, but out on the field I was afraid of making a mistake because you will get called out on it. You start thinking that you just don’t want to mess up. I know my confidence was down, but you just have to focus and get your confidence level back up.”

On not being around her siblings:

“I have two younger brothers and a younger sister as well. He will call me every once in a while and tell me he needs to come visit because he can’t handle mom and dad any more or something like that. I think we have become closer now that I am gone and we are no longer picking at each other’s hair and that kind of thing. I don’t have to drive him to school any more, which is nice. He takes forever to get ready in the morning. I think it is better that we can just talk and not beat up on each other.”

On being the oldest of four:

“I think my parents expected a lot out of me. They didn’t make me feel like I needed to be perfect, but I was supposed to set a good example. My siblings called me the angel child, but I don’t think I’m that way. I am a pleaser. If I can do something to make my parents happy I will do it.”

“My family came out when we played Illinois. My dad actually has a friend in Overland Park so they don’t have to stay in a hotel when they come. They are coming to one of our games in April.”