Now the Owls are ready for their next big challenge.
Coach Rob King and six of his players will head to South America on Friday to conduct a two-week soccer camp at the Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. It will be a far different culture than the summer camps King and his players conduct on the Kennesaw State campus.
Joining King will be midfielder Sofia Blanco, forward Kristin Marietta and defenders Katie Schwartz and Lexi Hastings. Also in the group are two graduated players — defender Caroline Austin and forward Savannah Duet, a McEachern High School product.
The group, which will leave Friday and return July 10, is ready to embrace the new experience. King and his players are expected to blog and tweet regularly on the Kennesaw State athletic website.
“We are delighted that we’ve been invited down,” King said. “Any time we can do something that’s out of the box is special. We traditionally have student-athletes on the team from different parts of the world. To expand our horizons, this is us going out and visiting a completely different culture.”
With soccer highly popular in South America, the Owls will work with at least 150 children ages 7-17, many of whom will likely have some experience with the sport. And the group from Kennesaw State will have to do their teaching in Spanish.
King said Blanco and his wife, Valerie, are both fluent in the language, which will help in overcome the language barrier. King is also using this opportunity to promote the women’s game, which has grown in popularity in South America since the emergence of Brazilian superstar Marta, the five-time reigning FIFA World Player of the Year.
If adapting to the change of culture is difficult enough for the first-time visitors, the Owls will also have to adjust to the high altitude in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, which stands more than 9,000 feet above sea level.
Kennesaw State’s Bagwell College of Education has collaborated with the Universidad de San Fransico de Quito to give students opportunities to study abroad and gain teaching experience and class credit at the English-speaking Colegio Menor.
And the first-time soccer camps are another way of reaching out.
“We want to put on a fantastic (camp) and be invited back,” King said. “Ecuador is a soccer-playing country, and it’s very traditional.”
King has led Kennesaw State soccer to eight seasons of 10 or more wins in his nine years at the helm. He’s also guided the Owls to three regular-season Atlantic Sun titles and two tournament championships.