Soccer team kicks off new season with professional player leading the way
By Taylor Wooten
Newly appointed women’s soccer coach Kim DeCesare knows a thing or two about the game. DeCesare is from Massapequa, Long Island, New York. She began playing soccer at a young age, along with swimming. She was encouraged by her family, whom her former college teammate Kait Kerr described as “very loud and very Italian.”
She was recruited by Duke University in her junior year of high school but tore her anterior cruciate ligament during her senior year. Her first season at Duke was a redshirt, resulting in four and a half year stay at the school.
During her time at Duke, she was extremely dedicated, Kerr said. Once, when Kerr and another teammate were punished for being tardy getting to the team bus, they were forced to run sprints at 5 a.m. the following day. DeCesare, despite not being in any trouble, came to run early in the morning with them.
“She was never the most skilled,” Kerr said. “She just always wanted to get better.”
Her dedication took her places. She was drafted by the Boston Breakers, a National Women’s Soccer League team, in 2014, and the following July, she went overseas to play for Eskilstuna United DFF in Sweden.
Afterwards, she trained with the Chelsea Football Club for a few weeks in London, England. She was then picked up by Sky Blue FC in New Jersey, where she spent most of her professional career.
After three seasons with Sky Blue, DeCesare decided to go over- seas again with a team called PSV Eindhoven, located in Amsterdam of the Netherlands.
She was the first American to play for PSV Eindhoven, and for the first time, she didn’t know anyone associated with the team before joining. While moving to a new place to do what she loved sounded perfect, DeCesare said there were difficulties.
DeCesare explained that she let soccer consume her life, and she regretted that at the time.
“I learned from my experience in Sweden, and just in general, that you have to have a life outside of soccer, especially when you’re playing. Otherwise it just consumes you,” DeCesare said.
“When you only have soccer you have all this spare time and you’re like ‘What am I going to do with this? Yes, I’m in a beautiful place, but I can only look at the sights for so long before I get bored,’” DeCesare said.
She was there for six games, which was about 10 months. Her professional path changed drastically when she sustained a broken leg during a game against AFC Ajax Vrouwen.
“During that time, I made the decision that I would get back from that injury, but that
would be my last year playing. I wasn’t healthy enough and I wasn’t good enough to come back to the U.S. and have a sure team,” says DeCesare. “So, I was like, ‘You know what? Maybe for my body and my mind’s sake, [I’ll] go into coaching.’”
While she was injured, Elon University hired her as an assistant women’s soccer coach. She returned to North Carolina and held the position all of last year.
For DeCesare, the job was a bit of a dream.
“I’ve always wanted to coach,” she said. “Ever since I stepped foot on a college campus, I was like ‘Okay, I want to be on a college campus forever, and I love soccer. I love learning about it, and I want to coach.’”
Upon hearing about the position at Franklin, she contacted Kerry Prather, director of athletics and came to Indiana for the interview. Despite being very well-traveled, she had not been in the Midwest until then. She was offered the job and accepted it.
“She rose to the top of a pool of qualified candidates,” said Lance Marshall, assistant director of athletics, who was involved in the selection committee.
DeCesare is excited to get settled and get to work with the girls, 16 of who are newcomers.
“This is probably the first time my whole closet is in the place that I’m living, because otherwise I was just packing bags,” said DeCesare. “I’m happy to not get on a plane for the next couple of months.”
Her main goal for the season is to see progress and take everything in strides. “I don’t really believe in outcome goals,” DeCesare said.
As for her own soccer career, DeCesare said it is on pause. “I only stopped playing a year and a half ago, so I can’t play for fun quite yet. It’s either zero or 100% and if I go 100%, I’m afraid I’ll get injured, and I don’t want to get injured.”