Women’s soccer season led by sophomore standout

Vaquero+Forward+Kaitlyn+Crooker+%28No.+8%29+leads+the+team+in+goals+with+18+this+season%2C+at+La+Playa+Stadium%2C+Thursday%2C+Nov.+20%2C+2014+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.

Malin Ensgård

Vaquero Forward Kaitlyn Crooker (No. 8) leads the team in goals with 18 this season, at La Playa Stadium, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

JONNY WALKER, Channels Staff

For some people, soccer is just a game to be played.

But for somebody like Kaitlyn Crooker, soccer is more of a lifestyle. The starting forward and leading scorer for the City College women’s soccer team admits that without soccer, life just wouldn’t be the same.

“I honestly don’t think I would be able to stay motivated with anything else if it weren’t for soccer,” Crooker said. “I love it too much.”

“It helps me manage my time and stay focused. I’m a social person but I don’t want to get distracted by that. Soccer just keeps me grounded.”

Crooker played a key role this season for City College leading the team in goals, points and shooting percentage. In her efforts, the forward guided the first ever City College women’s soccer team to win the WSC North title outright.

She scored 18 goals and had five assists in 2014. With 41 total points she was good enough to place 2nd in the Western State Conference and 7th in the entire state. So it’s no surprise that for a player as good as Crooker, soccer is a way of life.

Crooker hails from Alameda, Calif., a city on an island next door to Oakland. She grew up with her parents and two younger sisters, one of whom also play soccer. Crooker says she has played almost every sport there is, even gymnastics and ballet. She starred in ‘The Nutcracker’ in the Oakland Ballet for four years straight. But from the beginning, her true love was soccer.

“I played everything but softball,” Crooker said. “But my dad said whenever he threw a ball at me, I would always try to kick it.

She has been playing soccer since she was five-years-old, starting on recreation teams but played most of her years on club teams. It was during her senior year of high school that she was recruited to play for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

But being a freshman on a large team meant opportunities were few and far between for Crooker to showcase her soccer prowess. She decided to come back in search of another way to pursue her dream, and eventually found her way to City College.

“I just missed California too much,” Crooker said. “And it doesn’t get any better than Santa Barbara.”

Crooker had friends who attended City College. After visiting the campus, she decided it would be the place to start the next chapter of her life. And her passion for soccer came with her. She met head soccer coach John Sisterson, who was happy to have her on the team.

“I remember coming to see John in April of last year,” Crooker said. “He got me really excited to come here and he made it a good transition for me.”

Her aggressive style of play and knack for scoring goals was pivotal to the Vaqueros winning their conference and earning the No. 4 seed in state playoffs.

“Kaitlyn was our leading goal scorer and she’s done really well this year,” said Sisterson. “It’s always a team effort but somebody has to put the ball in the back of the net, and she knows how to do it.”

City College’s state championship run fell short this season, but it’s not the end of the line for Crooker’s soccer career. The biology major hopes to move on to play for a four-year school; maybe even UC Santa Barbara. She recently compiled a highlight tape so scouts can see the skills that she displayed so often at City College’s La Playa Stadium this past season.

“”What motivated me this year was my bad experience at GCU. I wanted to show them how good I was,” Crooker said. “Prove them wrong.”

She certainly proved her point.