From The Sidelines

by Matthew Lerman

One late September afternoon game stands out in the mind of California senior forward Katie Benz. It was her last game playing as a Golden Bear.

"It was a 50-50 ball, we were playing against Santa Clara, and we both went into the tackle as anyone else would have," Benz said. "It wasn't malicious, it wasn't a vicious tackle or anything. It just happened to be a hard enough impact that it broke my leg."

The legal studies major from Sonoma, Calif., suffered a broken leg that forced an end to her senior season. Benz said that she knew immediately what had happened when the collision occurred.

"It was very apparent," she said.

Being forced to watch her team play from off the field has been difficult for Benz, who still goes to support her teammates at all of the team's games.

"I'm taking it a day at a time. So far, I've been ok. I've got my mindset in the right place," she said. "It's not about what happened, but how the team can do from here on out."

Even five games after being sidelined with the injury, Benz still sits atop the team statistics with 10 goals on the year.

Benz has turned to music as a way to keep herself occupied outside of the sport she loves. She says that she enjoys singing, and is even trying to teach herself how to play a few instruments.

"I first started taking lessons when I was in about eighth grade. Then I went to high school for choir," Benz said. "I sang the national anthem a few times at other Cal sporting events. I keep myself busy."

Her teammates are constantly pleading for her to sing for them, and Benz will often oblige.

Benz recognizes the similarities between singing and soccer.

"I'm comfortable singing and being on stage, and I'm even more comfortable on the soccer field," she said. "It's quite similar in that you are performing for someone, you are entertaining for people."

Benz recognizes her mother as being the one who discovered her singing voice back in middle school.

"I played on a team out of town. So, I would drive about half an hour to practice everyday and my mom and I would be together and this one time my mom told me 'You can actually sing,' and so I took it up," Benz said.

It has become very clear to Benz that performing is something that she loves doing, but with her graduation approaching in the spring, she is not sure exactly if it will be in her career path. She recognizes the difficulty involved in making it in the music industry.

"If it so happens that it works out to for me, then great," she said.

Another option for her future would be to work with younger children and teach the game.

"This whole injury thing has kind of opened my eyes to coaching," Benz said. "Having soccer taken away so quickly has kind of made me think about what I want to do."

This summer Benz worked at a soccer camp and enjoyed the experience of teaching the kids.

"If I don't play again, then I would love to coach and be doing camps," she said. "This kind of warms me up to the idea."

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