SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Soccer star Kelsey Hogan is trading Tahoe’s clear blue water and mountainous landscape for crystal water in a more tropical setting.
The South Tahoe High School senior is in the midst of her childhood dream coming true. She leaves at the end of June to gain higher education and continue her soccer career at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a division 1 program about a 6-hour flight away over the Pacific Ocean.
“Ever since I was a little girl my dream has been to play college soccer,” said Hogan, who started playing at 4 years old. “I am beyond lucky that I get to play division 1 soccer for an amazing school. It’s gorgeous and they have a great women’s soccer team with amazing coaches. It seems like the perfect fit for me.”
Hogan talked about the difficulties of being recruited from a small town and the added factor of COVID made her feel like the process was impossible. But in the fall she reached out to a few more schools, including Hawaii, and sent video of what she could do on the soccer field, that likely included scoring goals from 35 yards out with either foot, crafty ball handling and creative, on-the-money passing.
“This past fall I felt I needed to reach out to a few more schools in order to achieve my goal,” Hogan said. “Growing up I always said I wanted to live in Hawaii, so I sent them an email with some film, and then the rest fell into place shortly after that.”
After Hawaii showed interest, an event was held at the high school on Thursday, Nov. 12, celebrating her commitment to the “Rainbow Wahine.”
In her four high school seasons, all as a starter on varsity, Hogan led the team in that span in goals (68), assists (41) and total points (177) in 84 total games.
She is the first South Tahoe girls soccer player to play D1 soccer straight out of high school and was the 2019 Northern Nevada Player of the Year.
Hogan said she also gets to continue wearing No. 15, a number that she has worn for years in tribute to U.S. Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe who plays the same position, left wing.
“It’s been my good luck number and I am very lucky to be able to wear it again,” said Hogan, who plans on studying psychology.
Hogan said she was offered her junior year to play at California State University, Bakersfield and was also communicating with Sacramento State before Hawaii entered the scene.
She gave credit to many who helped with her achievements.
“I owe a lot to my family who supported me throughout the years and helped me keep my head up during the recruiting process,” she said. “Jeremy Evans and Jack Larter have both played a big role in my journey. They’ve taught me so much and their belief in me means a lot. My past club coaches, Brandon Garinger and Matt Murray, helped my skill grow. Everett Goldberg’s strength and conditioning program has helped prevent injuries and helped me be in the best shape I could be in for the past four years. And of course, my dad (Brian) who has coached me from AYSO, to club, to high school, has taught me the most about trusting the process and being positive in tough times.”
Hogan hopes her perseverance through the tough recruiting process and her hard work through the years has inspired other girls to pursue their dreams.
“I hope to be an impactful player for the team and be a positive influence for everyone I’m around,” she said. “I hope my journey has inspired all the little girls from Tahoe to not give up on their dreams and that if you work hard enough anything is possible. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I hope I make my hometown proud.”