TSA FC soccer
'Love of the game' keeps Kearns going
32-year-old's experience earns her captain's armband
At a training session this week, TSA FC coach Amy Garelick had the team sprint back and forth along the width of the practice field. For most of the team, in their late teens and early twenties, it was an exhausting experience. Still, one older player managed to keep up.
"I do pretty good in fitness. I am in good shape and somehow I keep finishing in the top," said Kelly Kearns, 32. "I think it's my competitiveness and determination. I have something to prove because I'm older and not playing in college right now."
Kearns's soccer story started at a common spot for Tucsonans: Salpointe High School. After that, she played two years at Pima College and played on one of Tucson's previous entries in the WPSL, Sonoran Thunder. She played one season there before taking a break for her first child.
The Thunder folded, leaving her without a team to go back to. She didn't abandon the sport, however.
"I played co-ed indoor for fun," she says.
Going to kick around a puffy yellow ball and trying to avoid the boards in indoor soccer keeps a person in shape, but still, it had been 10 years since she'd played for an organized team at this level.
"I am a stay-at-home mom, so I just hit the treadmill, worked out on my own," she says about keeping herself in shape in the intervening decade. "It was just the love of the game. I love playing."
Of course, she made the roster for better reasons than that she can keep up on wind sprints.
"She has brought leadership. She's brought character and work ethic. She's the most athletic player out here," said Garelick. "She brings a unique perspective to this group. They are mostly just out of their teenage years and you have a mom here that's been taking care of three kids, cooking meals, driving kids around."
"I definitely feel the leader role," said Kearns, who has played all 180 minutes of the season so far. "I'm the captain. The girls look up to me because of my experience and age."
Outside of the world of athletics, 32 isn't considered old. But on the team, Kearns gets occasional reminders that she's in a very different spot in her life than the women on the team.
"I had a girl come up to me and tell me, 'I heard you are 32 and I think that's cool because I was born in '96'," she said. "My oldest son was born in '02. There's a huge age gap."
"It's been fun," she added. "We've al clicked and gotten along."
Kearns and the team get to click again at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Kino Sports Park when the team takes on Real Salt Lake Women. The game will be followed by an FC Tucson friendly against Real Phoenix.