Kathryn Westfall ’04

Soccer | Class of 2019


Harvard Athletic Achievements

2001 All-American (third team) … 4-time All-Ivy League first team (2003, 2002, 2001, 2000) … 2000 Ivy League Rookie of the Year ... Ranks second in career assists (32) and 13th in points (48) … Helped Harvard to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances (2001, 2000).


Remembering Harvard Athletics

It is a great honor to be inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. I was taken aback when I got the call from the current Harvard women’s soccer coaches notifying me about this nomination.

Harvard, the premier institution in the world, has already given me so much ‐ instant credibility, a seat at any table, and integrity. And with this induction it now is giving me even more. My life changed the day I decided to go to Harvard. It has changed for the better again today. Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club and the Selection Committee for choosing me to be a part of this group. It is something that I will cherish for a lifetime. And congratulations to the other 2019 inductees ‐ to be inducted alongside you is both humbling and remarkable.

One of my all‐time favorite memories of playing at Harvard was the away game under the lights against Princeton my freshman year. Welcome to Ivy League soccer! Going into the game, Princeton led the nation in team shutout percentage and hadn’t given up a single goal in League play. The Princeton fans were set up in mobs behind our goal and along the far sideline. In both locations they were close enough that they could reach onto the field. On more than one instance, the more spirited fans would throw beer at us or knock the ball out of our hands as we tried to throw it in. On every corner kick the mob of a thousand or so behind the goal would chant in unison “sieve, sieve, sieve.” And every time Goose would come away with the ball. It was deafening. It was energizing. It was everything beautiful about a late October Ivy League rivalry. We won 2‐0.

Another favorite moment was our run to the Sweet Sixteen. We ended the regular season on a bit of a slide, so when the NCAA selection committee called “Harvard” for an at‐large bid into the tournament, the room erupted. We got to work beating Quinnipiac in the first round. We were then set for a rematch against a really tough Hartford team that had solidly beat us a few weeks prior. We went up 1‐0 early.

Then 2‐0. Then 3‐0. It was unbelievable. And into the Sweet Sixteen we rode. Our opponent, Notre Dame, was ranked second in the nation. The game was in South Bend the weekend before Thanksgiving. Oddly enough, this was a home game for me ‐ my dad was born and raised in South Bend. I was also born there. My dad and a few of my brothers went to Notre Dame. I thought I would play for Notre Dame. A group of about forty strong consisting of my family, extended family, and friends came out to see us play, cheering all game long. The temperature at kick‐off was in the single digits. The grounds crew was shoveling snow off the field until the first whistle blew. We ended up losing the game 2‐0, but the experience and comradery was something I treasure to this day.

I’m one of 6 kids from a small town in Illinois where corn fields outnumber people. John Deere tractors and pickup trucks outnumber Subarus and hybrids. There are no bike lanes or coffee shops. American football is the main sport. But being the only girl in a family with five brothers, I had to choose something different because my mom said tackle football with the boys was where she “drew the line.” So soccer it was.

While certainly born with some natural talent, I mostly owe my success to great coaching. This started with my parents. Not knowing much about soccer but loving sports, my dad would always ask me about tactics – what formation are you playing, why are you playing it, what alternatives are there, why are you attacking down the left side? The questions were constant! My mom didn’t care about sports, but did care about my success, so she would ask about technique – why do you think your shot went high, how could you have made the pass better, what can you do to improve? And like my dad, her questioning went on and on game after game. It was a Socratic barrage from both sides (maybe why I ended up as a lawyer)! Neither of my parents were particularly interested in the score or whether my team won. They were interested in something much larger and much more meaningful. They taught me to appreciate the nuances, be intentional, be strategic, be accountable, and how to solve problems on my own in real time. Without knowing it (or maybe knowing it), they taught me how to succeed at life, and at the same time, to love soccer.

In addition to my parents, I’d like to thank the other coaches who have influenced me and played a large part in my success. Thank you to Tim Wheaton, Kelly Desmond, Christine Taggart, Mark Metzger, Rory Dames, Derek Menard, Frank Mateus, Kirk Heseman, and Norm Joyce for your generosity, patience, belief, encouragement, and kindness. Thank you for caring about me as a person first, and a player second. Each of you continue to have a tremendous impact on my life.

I’d also like to share this honor with my HWS teammates. While I receive this honor individually, I share this honor with you collectively. There’s no question my success at Harvard was in large part the result of a lot of unnoticed work done by you all. I’ve told several of you how appreciative I am, but for the others, thank you from the bottom of my heart. In particular, thank you to Sara Sedgwick ’06 for doing all the dirty work and being the toughest and most reliable player I’ve played alongside. Thank you to Joey Yenne ’03 for being the most competitive player and bringing out the best in me. If you didn’t already know, the entire team (or just me and Mac) operated on two principles – first, to win, and second, to not let you win (sometimes in reverse order). Lastly, thank you to Christine Taggart (Taggs) for being a sounding board and mentor for me at Harvard.

To my nieces and nephews, I will always believe in your dreams. To my wife and our little boy Lio, I love you both. Thank you to the rest of my family and friends who have always believed in me. We did it.

#ComeOnRoger #Dravrahog #TeamLove #SlowAsYouLikeNoWalking #UpUpHarvard

 

-- Your Team for Life --