Aug. 15, 2007
The following story appears in the August edition of KnightVision. Produced 10 times per year, KnightVision is the official publication of the UCF Athletics Asssociation. Each issue includes stories about UCF teams, student-athletes and coaches. To order 10 exciting issues from August through June, call 1-888-877-4373 (ext. 121) or 336-768-3400 (ext. 121).
A Career Unlike Any Other
She did not fit in at all. She had lived all over the country, and recently finished her high school days in Pennsylvania. Eventually settling down in Florida, she now sat in a room filled with top recruits and could not shake off her nerves. All she wanted to do was to walk on to the UCF women's soccer team.
This typically does not describe the beginning of a long career as a Division I student-athlete. However, Kate Begley, got her wish and three varsity letters later, is now getting ready for her senior year as a Knight.
Mostly a defensive midfielder, Begley and her family moved to Gulf Breeze, Fla., after she was a league MVP at North Penn High School in Lansdale, Pa. Even though her life took her on a wild journey, choosing UCF did not take long.
"My dad is a retired Navy pilot so I have lived in Maine, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and now Florida," said Begley, an education major. "When I visited UCF, it was a done deal. I loved not only the soccer program, but the campus, education program and the plans they had for the university."
Begley did have to endure the hardships of fighting for a roster spot before the 2003 season. She found out she was a member of the Black and Gold when she was placed in the dorm with all of the incoming soccer freshmen.
From that moment on, Begley not only began to fit in, she became one of the most important role players on a very talented UCF team. A dynamic leader on and off the field, she understands there is one key ingredient in keeping a winning tradition in Orlando.
"I believe that part of our success over the past four years is team chemistry," commented Begley. "We not only play together a few hours a day, but we live, eat, study and travel all over the country together. We are like a family, maybe sometimes a little dysfunctional, but still a family. These girls are my best friends. I would do anything for my family and I will do anything for this team and these girls."
Along with her teammates having a big influence on her, Begley has unfortunately had a negative aspect of athletics affect her attitude: injuries. She earned a medical redshirt in 2004 for a knee injury then tore her ACL as a junior the following year. For 2007, Begley desires to just stay healthy and help the team as much as possible, especially after the Knights suffered an emotional double overtime loss in the first round of the Conference USA Championship in 2006.
"Looking back on last year's conference play, we really had a great season, but I still get a bitter feeling when I think about it," said Begley. "Second place is just not good enough for us. We want to be first. It's what we know and strive for."
No matter where the Knights finish this year, with 10 home matches in 2007, this walk on will still have a lot of exciting memories to take with her, including all of the fan support she has received throughout the years.
"Home games are the best," acknowledged Begley. "Nothing compares to being out there under the lights on what I consider to be the best playing surface I have ever played on. And our fans are great too. Not only do they sit in the stands, but they sit around the track and even tailgate on the top floor of the parking garage right behind the field. There's nothing like hearing the U-C-F cheer to get us going."
- Brian Ormiston