Russell Leads Buffs Into Pac-12

By Nicole Ginley-Hidinger

Senior soccer player Kate Russell loves that the University of Colorado has joined the Pac-12. It makes this the year for them to discover new rivalries, travel to new places, and experience a different style of play.

"I appreciate the style of play you find in the Pac-12," Russell says. She describes that the teams in the Pac-12 have a much more finesse way of playing compared to the Big 12 where the style of play is about speed and strength.  

Head coach Bill Hempen knows that joining the Pac-12 means no easing up and tougher competition.

"It's exciting to be asked to battle in the Pac-12," he says. "It's exciting that the unknown lies ahead."

As a senior, Russell does not intend to let her final season pass her by. She intends to show up and prove that CU belongs in the Pac-12.

"I'd love to make an impact on the Pac-12," she says. "Being a senior motivates me, it's like a noose tightening around your neck."

She explains that when you are a freshman you never count the number of games you have left but you watch as the seniors do and think 'I'm glad that's not me.' Now, she is the one aware of how much each game matters.

Russell realizes she only has six home games left and her goal is for the team to win each of them. This includes winning the game against the University of Denver on Sept. 11, which Russell says is one of the biggest games of the year.

"DU is a rival so everyone's emotions are out of control," she says.

She says another big game for CU will be the game against Stanford which will take place in Palo Alto, Calif., on Oct. 23.

"The last time we played Stanford, I was very impressed," Russell says. "If they are anything like they were, we'll have to be at our best."

Russell's head coach says she is at her best when she sees the field, sees who is open, and anticipates where people will move.  

"The best of the best always see the game differently then your average soccer player," says Hempen.

Russell considers this one of the strongest parts of her game, and says "it's a trait I'm very lucky to have."

Going into her senior year, Russell already has a long list of accomplishments. In 2010 she was named to the DU Invitational All-Tournament Team, Gonzaga University All-Tournament Team, and the All-Big 12 Second Team. She is also close to obtaining several school records. Her 14 career assists is tied for third while her 121 career shot attempts ranks her tenth on Colorado's all-time lists.

"She's in the high list of the most soccer-playing soccer players," states Hempen.

Russell has helped the Buffs win 31 games. Out of these, the most meaningful for her was beating No. 6 Texas A&M in Texas last year during overtime.

"It was the best feeling in the world," Russell says.

Russell has already made her presence on the field noticeable in the 2011 season by taking seven shots in three games and scoring her first goal against Northern Colorado on Aug. 21.

After she graduates, Russell would like to continue playing the sport she has played for most of her life by going and playing over seas, possibly in Spain or Germany.

"If you're an athlete being able to compete in a sport you love motivates you," she says.

Russell began playing soccer when she was 4 years old and since then has had an amazing career, not only at CU, but also for her club team, the Colorado Rush, which won nationals back to back. For Russell, the biggest honor during her career has not been being listed in the school records or being named to any all-tournament team. It's not even winning club nationals. Russell's biggest honor was having the ability to play soccer at a Division-I university.

"It's a different lifestyle than your average college student, but it's definitely something I'd do all over again," she says.

The Buffs play their first conference game against Oregon State on Sept. 3.

Photo courtesy: Joel Broida

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