Isleib excited for nest two years
It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since Park City native Kelly Isleib was out winning championships and state MVP awards for her beloved Miners. But Isleib is all grown up now just one month away from her 21st birthday and preparing for her junior season as a member of the University of Utah soccer team.
"It went really fast," Isleib said. "College goes by so fast."
Isleib has been busy the last few years. As a freshman, she was named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. Her sophomore year she made both the All-Mountain West conference and All-West Region teams as well as and being ranked at the top for assists in the conference and the nation.
"I think you do as much as you can with the time you have," she said.
As the soccer team retuned to campus this week for training camp, Isleib was excited for what the next two years might bring. Gone is star forward Adele Letro, who Isleib so deftly passed the ball to last year. This year, Isleib looks make those game-winning goals, a role that is familiar to her and her fans in Pak City.
Isleib is also looking forward to being one of the veteran members of the team as the Utes welcome a large crop of incoming freshman this year. Despite garnering numerous accolades her freshman year, Isleib said much of that time was spent transitioning into a new team, new expectations and a new life. Last year she was more comfortable, but she said this is her year to "step up."
The Utes will open the season on Friday, Aug. 22 at Wake Forest and then play a jam-packed fall schedule. Already circled on her calendar is the University of Washington game when Isleib will face former Park City teammate, goalie Alex Phillips, and like any good Ute, Isleib can’t wait to take on Brigham Young University. But overall, she is just ready to play. Isleib chooses not set season goals beyond those of the team, instead choosing to adjust her individual goals for each game depending on the opponent.
Off the field, Isleib is also seeing success. Academically, she laughed as she said that she just tries to stay eligible, go to class and try her hardest, but Utah academic advisor Rob Rainey said that she has thrived in the university environment, keeping her GPA above a 3.0 and is known as a hard worker in her classes.
She said that she also has made social strides in the last two years. No longer living at mom and dad’s house, Isleib makes her home in Salt Lake with one of her siblings, a close friend and a fellow Utah teammate. She said that she has made numerous new friends and really taken advantage of the college experience thus far.
"It’s been really nice," Isleib said. "You get thrown into new situations… It’s nice to get out and do your own thing"
Her family is still close by for quick weekend trips and support at Utah home games.
"I get the best of both worlds," Isleib said.
Many of her new friends are her Ute teammates who she describes as her second family. Although they fight and squabble, they are together at least six days a week and always there to support one another. She has also become an avid fan of the other Utah sports. If she’s not playing soccer, she at a football or basketball game cheering on the Utes.
"With athletes, you get into the athlete thing," Isleib said. "That’s why the big student fan base at Utah."
Highly-recruited out of high school, Isleib likely could have played at any school in the nation, but she said that she never regrets her decision to attend the U. Even as current Park City soccer players make commitments to bigger, out-of-state programs, she said that there is admiration and intrigue, but she is happy to be a Ute.
"I see these younger kids going to big schools and I wonder what it would have been like, but I think college is what you make of it," Isleib said.
And Isleib has already made plenty out of her Utah career. She said she loves playing for coach Rich Manning, working together with her teammates and playing each fall in front of family and friends.
It’s been a great two years for Isleib and she can’t wait to see where the next two years will take her.
"I feel like there are things you can do better, but I gave it my all and I don’t regret anything," Isleib said.
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