The Winter Haven Youth Soccer Association Kicks (WHYSA) U18 girls soccer team won the Florida Presidents Cup April 27 — a state championship for which the girls have been rewarded with an opportunity to compete in Texas next month in a regional tournament.
Helping to lead the way for the Kicks was goalkeeper Kennedi Holbert.
Thanks to the outstanding defense of Holbert, who also plays for Winter Haven High, the Kicks were able to bring home the team’s first state title.
Was it surprising at all to compete for — and win — a state championship?
It was a big surprise — we’re kind of like a band of misfits and it just kind of works out. We work really well together on the field. We were really surprised because we weren’t supposed to make it this far.
Is winning a state championship the top memory in your sports career?
It’s pretty high — probably one of the highest.
Are you and your teammates excited for the opportunity to play in Texas?
A bunch of us haven’t played out-of-state or even traveled out-of-state. I’ve never been to Texas, personally, so I hope it’s going to be really fun.
How did you get started playing the game?
I started playing and at first I was put as the team manager. I didn’t make the team my seventh-grade year at all. And this girl, who was one of best friends, she was like “she’s going in the goal — I’m putting her there.” The coach had nothing to say about it and so that’s how it all started.
What do you enjoy about playing the position of goalie?
I like the control and, I don’t know, just getting down and dirty (defending the goal) sounds fun to me.
How do you mentally approach a penalty kick situation?
It’s more of a guessing game. When the opponent is going to kick the ball they will sometimes look at the corner they’re going to — or they’ll fake you out and go to the other corner. It’s just a 50-50 chance — you guess one way and you might get it and if you guess the other it’s just like “oh well, you tried.”
What does the team have to do to be successful in Texas?
To be successful in Texas we have to go have fun — we work best when we have fun.
What do you think you would like to do for a career?
I want to go into nursing and become, hopefully, a nurse practitioner. My mom, Kim Holbert, is a nurse.
Which one of your teammates is best at providing positivity during a game?
Catie Charlotte is definitely the most positive and uplifting.
What is your favorite place you have ever traveled to?
Grand Turk (Island) in Turks and Caicos. I love the ocean, the water and we dive and travel a lot. We’ve been pretty much all over the Caribbean.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to draw, but school keeps me really busy. I just draw anything I can find on the internet. I’ll take a pencil and just do it myself.
What is a show you could binge-watch all day on a rainy Saturday?
“Grey’s Anatomy.” I like the intensity when there’s an emergency and my favorite character is Amelia Shepherd.
What is the best advice you have received?
“Enjoy the journey” — my coach told me that. It means to have fun and not think about everything or get get aggravated.