MediaTips: My Journey after I thought I gave up Soccer

Reynolds School of Journalism student Kiley Diesner thought she was done with soccer but then discovered a new life with the beautiful game, coaching and reporting from the sidelines.

In 2013, Diesner (in possession of the ball) was captain of her Spanish Springs high school varsity team. She always thought she would be a college soccer player but then found new joys in coaching and being a soccer journalist.

From Bloody Bluejay to Captain

The first time I stepped onto a soccer field I was four-years-old. My team was royal blue and we were called the Bluejays.

The “goal” was nothing more than a two-by-four wooden board that us four-year-olds had to kick the ball into. Lucky for me, within the first 30 seconds of being on the field, the other team didn’t hit the wooden board with the ball, but instead they hit my face. An instant bloody nose and a couple of tears later, my mom tells me that at that moment she thought that my entire soccer career was only going to consist of that 30 seconds. She was very wrong.

While at Spanish Springs, Diesner (next to referee) was a star striker on the varsity team all four years.

Losing Some of the Passion

I went on to play soccer for the next 14 years. Starting out in the local AYSO league and playing for teams like “The Red Rockets”, “The Pink Panthers” and “The Cheetahs” and then going on to play club at the age of 11.

I was one of the better players for most of my soccer career and even made the varsity team my freshman year of high school earning second-team all league honors. I never wondered if I was going to play college soccer but mainly where I was going to play college soccer. I thought that my love for the sport meant I had to play it in college and that if I didn’t, I had failed.

My junior year of high school, I can’t pinpoint exactly what happened, but I slowly lost my passion for soccer. It was a combination of getting distracted by my interests in school (no this is not a code word for boys, though boys may or may not have been a part of the problem too), having a coach that I didn’t get along with, and realizing how much work it was going to take to play soccer in college.

I finished out my junior and senior years of high school and club soccer and after that decided to be done with it. It was a pretty tough decision for me to make at the time and I constantly found myself afraid that three or four years down the road I was going to look back on the decision I made and be upset. Lucky me, here I am those three or four years down the road and have realized I am not upset at all.

Diesner covers a Reno 1868 FC practice on June 9th, 2017. This was during her internship for KOLO8 in Reno, Nevada.

Becoming a Soccer Journalist

Within these last few years I have definitely kept soccer in my life by watching games, playing kick arounds whenever I get the chance, and going to Reno’s semi-pro team, the Reno 1868, games.

My sophomore year of college, I did an internship for a local paper and requested to be an intern sports writer. I had to attend local high school soccer games, live tweet the games, and then turn a story on the game within an hour after it was over.

I loved it and even though I didn’t get paid for any of the work or any sort of class credit, it was one of the experiences that made me realize that I had an interest in sports journalism.

My junior year I did a semester in Spain which confirmed my love of all things soccer and especially made me realize that I needed to keep soccer in my life as long as possible, whether I was playing or not. I got back from Spain, had enough credits that I could add a Spanish major to my previously declared journalism major and that is basically when it hit me. I realized that if I became fluent I could certainly do some soccer reporting in other countries and even if I didn’t become fluent I could simply be a soccer reporter in the states.

Diesner (upper left) has also gotten into coaching.

Rekindling the Passion

After this realization, whenever I had a journalism assignment in a class I would almost always make it soccer-related. It is so easy to do homework and complete assignments when it has to do with something you are passionate about. Within the last year I did a feature story on a Reno 1868 player who moved to America from Brazil when he was in high school, I got hired on at a local news station and have had opportunities to film Reno 1868 games and conduct interviews with players, and have even begun coaching the JV girls soccer team at the high school I attended.

The 18-year-old version of myself was so afraid that she was making the wrong decision by choosing not to play college soccer, that she didn’t even think about everything that could go right. It is safe to say that the four-year-old Kiley would be glad that she chose to step back onto the field wearing her blood-stained blue jersey.

After she thought she gave up on soccer, Diesner found new ways to incorporate her childhood passion into her evolving life.

Personal Essay and Photos shared by Kiley Diesner with the Reynolds Media Lab

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