COLUMBIA — Oregon City, Ore., is 1,931 miles from Columbia. Stephens College sophomore Kirsten Izzett crossed that distance on a Greyhound bus two years ago, not to play soccer but to study film.
Izzett had never stepped foot on campus until her move-in day. As she started experiencing this completely new place, she was approached about playing soccer.
Izzett had played soccer from first grade through the middle of high school but had decided to stop before her junior year.
"I just didn't like my team and didn't like playing anymore, and I was like 'I'm not going to play in college — all these other girls are too serious about it,'" Izzett said. "Why play my last two years (of high school) if I'm not going to play in college?"
Once at Stephens, though, Izzett was persuaded to give it another try by coach Xander Kennedy and another important influence.
"I was a little hesitant at first, but then my dad was like, 'You should do it,' so I did it," Izzett said.
Izzett is close to her family and describes their relationship as something you might see on a sitcom. She is one of six children and says that, at times, it can be difficult for her to be away from her home.
"I love my family, but I love Stephens," Izzett said. "I miss my family, but Stephens is my other home."
Izzett's father will visit her at school for the first time this week.
Izzett is close to her father, so she has been looking forward to his visit. Once she saw his post on the Stephens Athletics Facebook page about coming to games against Columbia College on Sept. 26 and Williams Baptist College on Sept. 28, Izzett was ecstatic.
"He's actually never visited Stephens, so that's really exciting," Izzett said.
Izzett herself has only been home twice since she started at Stephens.
"I went home for Christmas and then I went home for a week during the summer," Izzett said. "When I went home, I went for his birthday, and he had no idea I was coming. Me and my dad are really close."
On a team where 17 out of the 19 players are from Missouri and one of the remaining two is from Kansas, Izzett said that adjusting to the team was a struggle at first. And, even though the team is 0-6 this season, she is glad she has stayed with it.
"Obviously, we don't win very much, so that's not it," Izzett said about what keeps her on the team. "I love the girls. Everyone from last year who stuck it out this year, I'm so close to them. I can't imagine not playing with them. Some of us thought about not playing this year, but we just can't leave each other. We're best friends."