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COC's Katie Colleta: Worthwhile change

Sophomore thought about quitting, but returned as a highly productive player

Posted: October 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons sophomore Katie Colleta is fifth in the Western State Conference, South Division with six goals.

 

It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was one that College of the Canyons women’s soccer player Katie Colleta had made — she was ready to quit the game she had played since she was 4 years old.

“I had made my decision to quit. I was finishing out the spring semester and I was just having fun with the girls,” she says.

Colleta grew up playing club soccer, and while she says she was never the best on the team, she was always a key role player.

That changed though, once she got to Valencia High School.

“My fitness level went down when I went into high school. I stopped trying to make my self better,” she says.

As a result, she spent most of her time on the sidelines during her lone year on the varsity soccer team at Valencia, and last year at COC.

This year, things have turned around in dramatic fashion.

She is fifth in the Western State Conference, South Division with six goals, and has accounted for 13 points this season.

“Last year, I was never tired after a game. My uniform was barely touched,” Colleta says. “I’ve got dirt all over my uniform now, and bruises everywhere. It’s weird that I really missed that.”

Finally, Colleta is playing like the athlete she used to be.

“As a parent, you’re just like, ‘Jeez, night and day turnaround,’” says her father, Don Colleta. “You’re sitting there watching her play soccer growing up. You see moments of brilliance with her soccer game, and all of a sudden it goes away. And this year is exciting to watch.”

None of it would be possible, though, if her coaches and teammates hadn’t believed she was capable of success.

“When she told me she wanted to quit, I told her just think about it for a little bit because I really believed she was on the verge of having a big breakthrough for her,” says COC head coach Justin Lundin. “My advice for her was, ‘You’ve worked so hard and been the underdog for so long, don’t throw it away right when you’re about to reap all the rewards of your hard work.”

So she made the decision to stay with the team for her sophomore season at COC — and now, the woman who was ready to give up the game is planning to keep playing next year.

She’s been contacted by coaches from four-year schools and is hoping to play soccer at Biola University, The Master’s College or Cal Lutheran.

She credits Lundin with giving her the support she needed to turn things around.

“I don’t think a lot of coaches would have taken the time to help a player like me out,” Colleta says. “And I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me.”

Things aren’t done yet, though.

The Cougars, ranked sixth in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Junior College Division III rankings, are undefeated and in second place in the Western State Conference, South Division with a game against first-place Citrus on Nov. 6.

And Colleta has proven that if the Cougars are going to repeat as conference champions, she’ll be a big factor.

“She scores in big games, she comes through when we need her to and she’s become a large part of our team,” says teammate Casey Wesley, who first played soccer with Colleta at the age of 5.

“I knew all along she was totally capable. It was just when she went from club (soccer) to high school, she lost her confidence,” Wesley says. “And going from high school to COC, she still didn’t have her confidence. I knew she was capable, but it was a matter of her going out and showing she deserved to be there.”

That’s something that Colleta has started to realize, as well.

“I came into COC with such a terrible attitude, and even in high school for not working so hard. But everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to be here with these girls and the coaching staff,” she says. “And I was meant to be a part of this team. It’s a little bittersweet, but I wouldn’t trade this experience right now for anything.”


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