By Christina Lee
City on a Hill Press Reporter
The shine of stadium lights beat down on the field, as the opposing team’s star striker sprints down the field in a breakaway. It’s a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The shot goes off and the spectators hold their breath in anticipation. Katie Loomis dives to the left, and with unerring skill snatches the ball from the air, saving the lead for her team and doing her part to help to clinch the win.
This kind of intensity was commonplace for Loomis when she played goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team. It wasn’t long ago that Loomis walked through the beautiful campus of UC Santa Cruz; she graduated in June 2008 with a degree in biology.
Well-known in the soccer world even then, Loomis earned the title in 2006 of All Independent Keeper of the Year, and was No.1 in the nation for goals against and save percentage, with 15 shutouts.
However, if asked then, Loomis would not have said that soccer was definitely going to be part of her future. In fact, it wasn’t until after she graduated that she realized how much the sport mattered to her.
“I realized after last season how much I was going to miss it, so one of my assistant coaches invited me to play for the Nighthawks [a San Francisco semi-pro team],” Loomis said. “The more I thought about it, and the more I played with the semi-pro team, I realized how much I really did want [to play professionally], so after that I full-focused and put everything into it.”
Over the summer, Loomis did double-day workouts, training with her keeper coach for two to three hours, and then later in the day doing a muscle workout or going for a long run. And for the past few months, she has been juggling three jobs, including one as a coach for the women’s varsity soccer team at Aptos High School.
Now, after the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL) Combine, she is training with current players on UCSC’s women’s soccer team to work on speed and agility, and to gain muscle tone in an attempt to prepare for this year’s summer season.
Earlier this year, Loomis was invited to the WPSL Combine, which exclusively invites those who play on semi-pro teams. Despite a solid performance, Loomis did not get drafted to the professional league.
“It was mainly fresh-out-of-college kids, a lot of national team players, kind of big-name people,” she said. “But I’m not going to let that get me down, because when I was at the combine, I felt like I could hang with all of the keepers there, and any of the forwards. I think the only reason I didn’t get a serious look is because all I have is a Division III repertoire, whereas they are all DI, UNC, [with a] big name to back them.”
Michael Runeare, coach of the UCSC women’s soccer team, supports Loomis’s aspirations of going pro, and is proud of how much she has improved.
“Her experience at the DIII level may not be as extensive as some players at the DI level, but I don’t necessarily think playing in DI makes you a better player,” Runeare said. “I believe that she has improved since she left here, and her experience last year playing with the San Francisco Nighthawks gave her experience playing professional.”
Recently, Loomis was invited to try out for a pro team called the Chicago Red Stars. She made it to the second round, and received tips on what to work on and how to improve. Next, she will be moving back to her hometown in Tacoma, Wash., to train with a coach there for the next two months to improve, and prepare for the summer season as the starting keeper for the Nighthawks.
“She’s definitely on her way,” Nighthawks coach Aileen Nasypany said. “She’s a young keeper but she’s very dedicated and I really see a great future for her.”
So for now, Loomis is training and preparing as much as possible in hopes of finding her big break.
“Jumping to the next level is not easy,” Runeare said. “Sometimes it takes the right opportunity — being at the right place at the right time.”
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