The clock counted down to end the second overtime. The score was tied. Players began alternating penalty kicks. The winner was announced. The crowd roared as the El Camino Real High School girl’s soccer team flooded the field, winners of the Los Angeles CIF City Championship. Leading them to this victory was their captain, Sarah Karkenny.
Karkenny, who hoped to go to The Master’s College at the time, was no stranger to the feeling of winning a game, having made it to the city semi-finals in previous years. The defender’s career in soccer started when she was 6. Her love of the sport grew for more than a decade. She had competed for both a club team and the El Camino Real High School girls team, captaining the team both junior and senior year of high school.
Karkenny grew up in Chatsworth, a short drive from Master’s. She desires to complete her degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in teacher education while she continues her passion for soccer on the colligate level. She was familiar with TMC since both her older brothers, Steven and Jason, excelled in the baseball program at TMC.
“I didn’t even look into schools other than Master’s.” Karkenny said. “I am excited to continue my education and athletic career at a school that will help and allow me to grow tremendously. I am also looking forward to being in an environment that will help me grow in my walk with the Lord and be at a school that has the desire to glorify God in all we do.”
Karkenny excelled in the classroom and on the field in high school, but adjusting to the college setting was a fear entering her first season at TMC.
“Getting to know the new system of play that my coach likes to use, so just figuring that out with people who already knew how he liked it was probably the hardest,” Karkenny said.
Alongside the fear of learning the new set up, Karkenny also feared meshing with a new group of girls at different levels of skill and in different seasons of life.
“I think one of the biggest [challenges] was just adjusting to a whole new group of girls because high school was kind of hard my freshman year to find my place on the team and that was a group of 40 girls.”
Karkenny got to know her fellow teammates over the practices before the start of the fall season.
“One thing I remember about when I first met Sarah was once coach called her out in front of the whole team and was like, ‘I just want to point out a player, she’s been staying afterwards to help clean everything up when all of you guys leave,’ so I thought that was really cool,” said TMC teammate Victoria Gama. “She goes out of her way to just kind of make people’s days. She’s really thoughtful with just the little things.”
The little things she does have made an impact on the team, making her an asset on and off the field. She may be new to the college setting, but she brings joy to the team.
“Playing with Sarah, she brings like this spirit like, ‘Oh Sarah’s here!’ just like upbeat or like kind of just livens the mood—just makes it fun and enjoyable,” Gama said.
The friendships and encouragement from her teammates has helped her grow in her skill of the sport and as a person.
“I have known Sarah for about eight years, and right when we met we became very close friends,” said sophomore Vanessa Kingery, Karkenny’s roommate.
Kingery and Karkenny also attended the same high school and church.
“It’s great to have someone here who has grown up with you and seen your struggles and your relationship with Christ and always encourages you to strive for more in your relationship with Him,” Karkenny said.
In addition to Kingery, Karkenny has her brother, amongst other long-term friends, at TMC to go through the next few years at the college with and encourage her as she also encourages them.
Her brother Steven graduated from TMC in the spring of 2015, but Jason continues to pitch for the college’s baseball team.
“It’s very nice having my sister at school,” Jason said. “She always brings such a big smile to my face every time I see her because she gets so happy and she’s just a little ball of energy and it makes me smile.”
By Sierra Elm