top of page

Catching Up With A Cardinal - Katie Best

The game started at age five, when soccer was nothing but a pair of pink soccer cleats, sweaty shin guards, and post-game snacks with my best friends. The game was simple. I learned the basic golden rule; don't kick the ball in my own goal. But as I grew older, I started to realize how much passion I had for this sport. I began investing all of my time into the game. In high school, I started playing on a national-level team, where my understanding of "intense" gained a whole new meaning. Traveling for games meant long hours in the car, or spending an entire day in the airport. I played soccer year-round; fall, winter, spring and summer. There was never truly an off-season. I became so dedicated and committed to being the best I could possibly be. When it was time to start looking at colleges, I focused most of my energy on researching out-of-state schools. I wanted to go far from home and experience a new world. But, I also wanted to play Division I soccer, something that had always been a goal. I began endless road trips with my mom and dad to several different colleges, seeking the perfect match. Whether it was in-state, or out-of-state, I knew my parents fully supported whatever my decision would be. As a former football player at Bowling Green, my dad couldn't be any happier that his little girl was planning to play a sport in college. He was my number one fan, and never missed a single game. My dad served as my main inspiration throughout my soccer career. He knew the challenges and rewards of being an athlete, and I wanted nothing more than to make him proud. Little did I know, my entire life was about to drastically change. June 22, 2014; the day I received a phone call that something had happened to my dad. Every child's greatest fear had somehow become my new reality. My dad had experienced an unexpected massive heart attack and passed away. My own dad. How could this happen to me? My entire world stopped. While trying to grieve the loss of my dad, I knew I had to be strong and keep working towards my goal. I knew that's what he would have wanted me to do. A month later, I committed to play soccer at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the school I had wanted all along. My senior year of high school was extremely tough to say the least, because everything was different without my dad there to see it happen. I thank my family and friends for always supporting me through that tough year. The summer before I left for college, life decided to throw me another curveball. In June of 2015, I was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Crohn's Disease. What on earth is Crohn's Disease? I didn't really know how this would affect my life until it took full force. I'm now very familiar with this ugly disease and how it can truly alter one's life. In case you are wondering, Crohn's Disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. After this diagnosis, my seemingly "normal" lifestyle was not so normal anymore. The symptoms took over my body. I was immediately put on high-risk medications, changed my eating habits, and was told that playing collegiate soccer was not going to be in my future. I was heartbroken, and refused to believe my soccer career would end because of this. My drive and passion for the game was the only thing that kept me going, so I made the decision to try and play soccer at UNCC. I knew this would be tough, and I knew there was a chance it might not work out, but I couldn't stand thinking about the "what if." When I arrived to move-in day of my first collegiate preseason, I knew I was not only battling a physical and mental journey, but I was going to battle it as a newly diagnosed Crohn's patient. I knew this would be hard, especially because my family was about eight hours away. Being this far away was harder than I imagined, as I was forced to find new doctors and deal with Crohn's as a first year student-athlete. But this didn't last long. Unfortunately, my mind and my body were not on the same page. In the midst of the season, I found myself spending endless days in the emergency room with painful flare ups, which consisted of extreme stomach pain, weight loss from not being able to eat food, and pain medications. Because of how aggressive my disease was, I never got to step foot on the field. I began to realize I wasn't going to win this battle. Physically, my body couldn't handle the stress of soccer, and neither could my mind. Because of the severity of my disease, my doctors recommended one last option; surgery. The thought of having surgery on my stomach was terrifying. But this was the last thing I could do to improve my quality of life, and get back to my active and free lifestyle outside of the hospital. On December 15, 2015, I made the decision to undergo a small bowel resection to remove the damaged part of my small intestine. I spent nearly 10 days in the Cleveland Clinic recovering from this major surgery but, luckily, I made it home just in time for Christmas with my family. Those 10 days were life changing. Prior to the surgery, I knew I wanted to transfer schools due to how much I missed home. Dealing with Crohn's, playing a sport and balancing school was too much to handle while being so far away. I began looking at schools near my hometown of Powell, Ohio. My mom, being an alumni of Otterbein University, suggested I check it out. I called Coach Brandon Koons, explained my situation and told him I would be having surgery in December, so I wasn't sure how the recovery would really go. I was just hoping for the best. After setting up a visit, and seeing the campus, I knew right away it was going to be my new home. I could see how much Brandon and his coaching staff truly cared about this program, but I didn't realize how special it really was until I joined this team. I ended up transferring mid-year, in January of 2016, just a month after surgery. I was extremely nervous to be a new student at a smaller campus, trying to fit in halfway through the year and remaining anxious about joining the soccer program. I was immediately welcomed by every single player and made to feel so comfortable from the get-go. I can't thank my teammates enough for accepting me as a new player to the program. Today, I'm nearly halfway through my very first season of Otterbein Soccer and couldn't be more proud to be apart of this team. I'm also thankful for everything Brandon has done for me to make the transfer process easier as a new athlete. I'm grateful that I can still play the sport I love; despite the obstacles I've been faced with. After losing my dad, being diagnosed with Crohn's and transferring schools, life has really tested my strength. But, I truly believe everything happens for a reason and think there's a reason why I ended up at Otterbein. This school has given me amazing friendships, an incredible team, and I can't wait to see what the future will bring. Katie Best Class: 2019 Major: Marketing

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page