Nicole Calder came into the season with high expectations for Kennesaw State women’s soccer in 2014. She was named to the Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team and was the captain of a KSU squad that made the semis of the A-Sun Championship in 2013.
In a turn for the worse, the senior went down with an ACL injury early in the year and her final season as an Owl was in jeopardy.
“The first thing that ran through my head is I have to have surgery as soon as possible,” mentioned Calder of the injury. “The sooner I could get through the whole process, the sooner I could get back out there with my team.”
It was not an easy thing for head coach Rob King to deal with in such a young season. The Owls were young and looked to Calder for leadership.
“We have some great, talented kids on this team,” said King. “We don’t have anybody more mentally tough than Nicole, she is hardcore.”
Calder thought her season was over, but her progression in the recovery process opened up a door for her in the 2014 season, something that surprised Calder herself.
“The trainers asked, ‘How about you try playing on it’ and I thought that is a really stupid idea,” stated Calder, “but I worked hard in the weight room and was able to get back out there.”
Calder is also known for her work off the field. Her coach mentioned her dedication to being a great student and role model.
“Academically, she will be going to get her doctorate and is impressive in the classroom,” stated King. “It’s not just about team leadership with her. She makes sure to speak to each player individually and truly pays attention to each one.”
The senior is the driving force behind Kennesaw State’s high morale down the stretch of the 2014 campaign.
“My teammates get excited to see me out there and a few of the parents tell me I have a presence the team builds off of out on the field,” said Calder. “I guess it gives them something to look up to.”
Calder and the Owls went on to defeat Lipscomb in the semifinals in double overtime, 1-0, and now focus on the A-Sun Championship Final on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Fort Myers, Fla.