Buffalo Grove High grad enjoying stellar soccer season at ISU
Kelli Zickert's earliest memories of soccer include getting trinkets after games.
Zickert, a Buffalo Grove High School graduate, told the Lake County Gazette in an email interview that she first played soccer for an organized park-district team. After each game, the players would receive little prizes like toy eyeglasses that have the eyes pop out of them. They always got the trinkets, win or lose.
“I understand now this taught me how to enjoy the game,” she said.
Zickert now plays the game at Illinois State, where she is one of the Redbirds' top goal scorers.
Through Oct. 23, according to GoRedbirds.com, Zickert, a junior midfielder-forward, had scored five goals, which was tied with two other players for second place on the team. She also was second on the team in shots, with 41, and shots on goal, with 17, and had three assists, which was tied for third place.
Her efforts played a big part in the strong start by ISU, which was 11-5-2 overall after the first 18 games of the season, including a 4-0-1 record in the Missouri Valley Conference, winning the league's regular-season championship.
Zickert's goals this season represent an increase over last season, when she had two goals and an assist in 18 matches. And the goal total matches what she notched during her freshman season in 2014, when she was named the MVC Freshman of the Year, with her two-goal game against Idaho being a highlight. She also had five assists that year.
Zickert always has been a prolific shot-taker for the Redbirds. Last season, she led the team with 55 shots – including nine shots against Navy – and 27 shots on goal. As a freshman, she was fourth on the team with 33 shots and sixth with 13 shots on goal.
Her blossoming ISU career comes off her great high school career, which included all-state honors. Zickert said her biggest challenge going from high school to college was adapting to the speed at the collegiate level, in addition to the increased demands of practice, travel and coursework.
A big thing Zickert said she has improved since arriving at ISU is her communication.
“My goal has always been to have a positive impact every time I step on the field, and I feel if I continue to do that, I will keep improving in all aspects of my game,” she said.
Zickert said there are many aspects of soccer that she likes.
“I like the opportunities, travel and play the game with so many different people from different places,” she said.
Zickert is majoring in exercise science and plans to become a physical therapist. She anticipates soccer staying with her after she leaves ISU.
“I'm not sure yet, but I don't see myself being too far away from the game,” Zickert said.