West Valley's Kiara Simpson is only a junior but she has already committed to Boise State University / Photo credit Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Kiara Simpson of West Valley is like a wizard with the soccer ball because of the magic she creates on the field.
It’s a family tradition.
“My sister and my brother play and we are all No. 7,” she told me. “And my grandpa played in Czechoslovakia, so it has been a whole family thing.”
This Simpson brings the dynamite.
The explosive junior playmaker netted 49 goals in her first two years of high school and already owns a 4-score game this year.
No wonder NCAA D1 coaches took notice of Simpson, who has already committed to Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.
She could wind up being one of the greatest players to come out of Alaska.
But she set out to be like her older sister Malia, a former 4-year West Valley starter that went on to play at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Simpson wanted to be like her so much she wears her jersey number in her honor.
“My favorite player is Ronaldo and he is No. 7, but I chose it more so because my sister chose it and I wanted to be more like her,” she said.
When Simpson was younger she played basketball, volleyball and soccer but then broke her leg, which changed her direction in life.
“I broke my leg, so like jumping became really hard, so I quit basketball freshmen year. I quit volleyball because I had to choose a sport.”
It was soccer, which she started playing at age 4.
“I have always been really serious about it but it really started in middle school and I started going to college ID camp right after 8th grade,” she said. “Stanford was the first one. Then freshman year is when I really started looking at colleges and narrowing it down.”
It didn’t take long for Simpson to discover Boise State, which will provide a scholarship after she signs her letter of intent during the Early Signing Period.
“I’ve always wanted to play Division I soccer, and everything about Boise State seemed perfect,” she said.
Other colleges such as Washington State, Minnesota State Mankato, Seattle, Montana and Oregon State were also recruiting Simpson to play at the next level.
“Some of the other schools were either too small or I didn’t like the area,” she said.
In Alaska, the support was always there; whether it was different coaches, different cities and even different gender, people helped pave the way for her to become the player she is today.
Simpson gave a shout-out to Dan Rufner and the Alaska ADP Program, which provided additional training and travel opportunities that were very beneficial to her; as well as Andrew Dietrich of Crossfire Anchorage, Howard Maxwell and Bruce Gard of Fairbanks Eclipse, and John Cadigan and Bill McKenzie of West Valley
“The coaches really developed me as a young player,” she said. “When I went in to play with the Crossfire team, I was the youngest player and that made me really nervous, but he helped me build up my confidence.”
Simpson also got to train with the Fairbanks 01 boys team, coached by Justin Racette.
“Yeah, I practice a lot with boys because there are not a lot of girls soccer teams in Fairbanks, so I play with my brother’s team. They are like a year younger than me,” she said. “Playing with the boys is like the best thing a girl soccer player can do.”
Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska School Activities Association.