Camdenton senior Aeryn Kennedy had a vision.
Camdenton senior Aeryn Kennedy had a vision.
It was a vision she never stopped pursuing and that vision turned into reality when Kennedy signed her national letter of intent to play soccer for Marquette University on November 18.
“It is super exciting and something I was hoping for,” Kennedy said of reaching her goal. “Ever since my freshman year I’ve been wanting to play at the Division I level so working towards it and finally having it done is so much weight off my shoulders.”
Like anything worth pursuing, the commitment was born out of passion and for Kennedy that passion began at an early age when she saw her older sisters Cassie and Karissa, both Camdenton graduates, kicking the ball around. A curiosity was ignited and the ball has basically never left her feet since.
“I don’t think I’ve ever missed a season since,” said the senior who began playing soccer at the age of 3.
“I just liked playing it more as I got older and I love how it is global. There are a lot of people around the world who play it and it is a really good community to be a part of. I like being active in the bigger field, playing with my feet, and just enjoy it.”
It did not take her long to find success, either, as she became one of Camdenton’s most decorated scorers with one final season left to play this spring.
Through three years on the pitch representing the Lakers, Kennedy currently has 102 goals and 30 assists. She has been named First Team All-Conference all three years and has also earned the honor of Ozark Conference Offensive Player of the Year. She has also been named First Team All-District three times, All-Region twice and Second Team All-State twice with an MVP award in the mix as well.
“Aeryn is just an awesome individual. She works hard each day at practice and I know she established her routines and how hard she works well before stepping foot inside of the high school,” Camdenton coach Chris Byington said. “It is neat to see her pursue her goals and reach them, although, I know she is far from done.”
Kennedy’s efforts on the pitch caught the attention of Marquette coach Frank Pelaez who she met through the Olympic Development Program. Kennedy plans to study mechanical engineering at the Big East school in Milwaukee and will also be involved in the school’s Navy ROTC Program.
“I started looking at the school and fell in love with it.,” said the senior who plans to play centerback or center midfielder for the Golden Eagles.
“Not only is their engineering program and soccer team good, but also their Navy ROTC program.”
Byington has no doubt the Golden Eagles found a good player to invest their future in.
“I think Marquette can be ready for an individual who is smart, cares about her teammates and is extremely competitive. Aeryn has always been willing to be competitive in everything she has attempted and is not fearful of trying something new,” he said. “I’m stoked for her to be a part of a big environment and compete with others at that level. She will excel and will grow in the struggles.”
Kennedy is looking forward to seeing how her talents shape up as she broadens her horizons beyond the Lake area, but there is something special about playing with teammates she has close bonds with.
“It is always fun to go out in Springfield, do a lot of competitive stuff and travel around the country, but I think always playing for your school and representing that team- you play with your friends you see every day,” she explained. “The team bonding is hard to get in a traveling team so it is just a lot of fun.
“Coach Byington is a great coach. I’ve had him since freshman year and each year he always knows how to deal with the mentality of the team and it is just a really great atmosphere.”
Kennedy’s goals and assists have certainly been a welcome sight for Byington and the program the past three years, but the senior’s impact goes beyond all the statistics.
“I think Aeryn does well with leading others in her efforts and relationships with her teammates. I think others can view that as a message for anyone who is wearing a Lady Laker uniform and is part of a group bigger than herself,” the coach said of Kennedy’s impact. “Aeryn embodies this and I believe that it causes her to be a great teammate and leader. She does not let her skill go to her head and yearns to do what is best for the team.
“She is an awesome example of what we stand for as a program.”
Kennedy’s passion is now part of her future and the senior said she encourages others to keep doing what they love as well.
“At first it was just fun so I’d go out and play with friends,” she said of her relationship with soccer. “Once I realized I wanted to work towards Division I, it was a lot of countless hours of working hard and also encouraging others to work hard around you. Not everything can be done at practice and you just have to put a lot of effort in your free time.”