It happens in every game.
At some point during a match, Kayla Champion will look over to the sideline or into the stands and see her parents, Rick and Kristine, wishing words of encouragement. It’s in those moments when the San Benito High senior forward feels lucky to have been blessed with such loving parents.
“My dad has coached me since I was little, and sometimes he’ll be running along the sideline if I score,” said Champion, who has three goals this season. “My mom comes to all my games and asks how I’m doing everyday and to not get down. I feel happy when I see them at the games.”
You can bet Champion’s parents feel the same way when they’re watching their daughter on the pitch. When asked about her favorite memories of playing soccer, Champion mostly listed the social team-bonding activities that came with it.
She’s scored plenty of goals over the years; however, it’s the relationships she’s built that she’ll remember long after her playing days are over. Champion started playing club soccer at age 6, and she vividly remembers the many weekends spent in a car driving to far-away locations to play in tournaments.
“Traveling for tournaments, we’d often sleep in cars in between games,” Champion said. “Or we’d stay in hotels if we were playing at the same location for more than one day.”
Champion started her high school career in the midfield before being switched to forward. At first, Champion was hesitant to make the move, but she’s become comfortable playing up top.
“I understand the position now and sometimes I can see plays before it happens,” she said.
On the college front, it’s been nothing but good news for Champion, who has been accepted by five of the six colleges she’s applied to (she’s still waiting to hear back from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo).
“Defining success in my life is working hard and striving to achieve your goals,” said Champion, who carries a 3.6 GPA.
Champion entered her junior season last year with plenty of motivation. Having played her first two years on the junior varsity, Champion knew she had to lift her game to make an impact on the varsity.
“Last year I just wanted to prove to my coach (Becky Bonner) that I could do it,” Champion said. “She was very supportive of me and has taught me a lot on how to play the game.”
Even though Champion has made an impact as a goal-scorer, she hopes her impact in the intangibles category will have a more lasting impact once the season is over.
“I want to be remembered for being a positive player and lifting the younger girls on the team,” she said. “I just wanted to be there as a friend and teammate.”
Champion’s goal of becoming an ultrasound technician was shaped six years ago, when she accompanied her aunt, Tracy, for her ultrasound.
“I really liked how the technician talked about the baby, and I saw how excited my aunt was,” Champion said. “I would like to have that same effect on others.”
It happens in every game.