Before Kaitlyn Springer helped complete the best Stillwater High girls’ soccer season in years, and arguably ever, she was signed to continue her career at the next level.
The then SHS senior – now alumnus – had inked her athletic future with a local junior college.
Springer signed to play soccer at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, where she will play goalkeeper. The idea of playing collegiate soccer wasn’t something she thought about until this spring, but once it was presented, she was onboard.
“They just started talking to me this year,” Springer said. “I thought to myself I could play at the college level. I had never thought of it, but I might as well give it a try.
“I hadn’t thought about it at all. I just thought I’d be done playing after high school, but then they started talking to me. So I thought maybe I should do it, OK I guess I’ll do it.”
SHS soccer coach Seth Condley, who took over the girls’ program this year, was thrilled for Springer. She joins Mason Bratton on the boys’ team as the only two SHS players signed to play soccer after high school this year. Bratton will be playing for the Tulsa men’s squad.
“The girls were excited that there were colleges coming to our high school games,” Condley said. “We had a lot of Juco schools, which you’ll get a lot at high school games, and some Division II.”
Condley said he helped Springer through part of the process once college coaches began showing interest and recruiting her, but he told her the decision ultimately fell on her lap.
“NOC and NEO came in around February and March to talk to Kaitlyn,” Condley said. “They were talking to her and she went there for one visit. She liked it so much, she signed to go play goalie there.
“I told her it’s up to her and her parents what she does, but coaches have been asking about you. They went for a visit and she’s going to go play and get some of her school paid for.”
Springer started as the Lady Pioneers’ goalkeeper all season, helping them to a 10-6 record and a third-place finish in their district. It was their best district finish in program history.
She recorded two shutouts during the first half of the year before recording five more during the Lady Pioneers’ five district victories. She blanked Muskogee, Ponca City, Enid, Bartlesville and Bixby.
In the first round of the Class 6A playoffs, Stillwater lost 1-0 at Norman. It was one of six games in which Springer and the Lady Pioneers gave up only a single goal.
“It was a good season,” Springer said. “We did so good. We won a lot and it was fun.”
Before that playoff game, she had already signed with NOC-Tonkawa. Springer said Redands Community College came to talk to her, but was too late.
The decision to play soccer wasn’t easy, as she was planning on remaining in Stillwater to attend Oklahoma State University.
“I was a little tough, because I was already leaning toward going to OSU,” Springer said. “I was already getting the orientation stuff started, and then they came and talked to me. So, I thought maybe I should do it.”
Springer has less than two years playing goalkeeper under her belt. She split time in the goal during her junior season.
She originally began her soccer career as the goalkeeper, but was moved to forward because of her speed. Springer has played in the midfield and on the backline before ultimately finding a home as the last line of defense.
Now, she’s taking that talent to NOC-Tonkawa, where she will report in less than a week, with her first collegiate game less than three weeks away.
“Although it’s in a different town, I thought maybe I should get out of Stillwater for about a year,” Springer said. “Tonkawa is small, so I don’t think it will be that bad. It’s just an hour away, so it’s not too far. It will be weird getting used to a new team of girls, but I’m really excited about it.”