Kayleen Gowers commits to Princeton’s Division 1 soccer team


Courtesy Kayleen Gowers

By Julie Vargas, Staff Writer

Junior Kayleen Gowers grew up in a soccer family—her great-grandfather played for Manchester City, one of the top soccer clubs in the world, and her dad played at Harvard. Following in her family’s footsteps, Kayleen committed to Princeton University’s NCAA Division 1 soccer team last July.

While Kayleen has been playing soccer since she was five, she only joined club soccer in the third grade and began playing for MVLA. Since then, she has been a part of two other clubs, De Anza Force, and her current club, the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the best girls soccer teams in the country which at one point last season ranked at #2 in the nation. To be on such an elite team, Kayleen has had to adhere to a strict schedule, practicing for two and a half hours almost every single day and attending out-of-state league games and showcases, often missing school for these events. Despite the rigor and difficulty of her club, the support of her team and coach have been integral to Kayleen’s soccer success.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the strong support from my coach Andres Deza,” Kayleen said. “He believed in me and the technical style of soccer I play, through all the ups and downs over the years.”

It felt right. I think with a lot of the other schools, although they were all both academically and athletically excellent, I never really felt at home there.

— junior Kayleen Gowers

Her hard work throughout the years has paid off— dozens of schools, including Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Brown University, and Northwestern University, reached out to Kayleen, but she knew Princeton was the school for her after visiting the campus last summer and getting to know the coaches and players. Before this trip, Harvard University was her first choice because she grew up in Boston and because of its strong academics, but as soon as she set foot on Princeton, she realized it was the ideal place for her.

“It felt right,” Kayleen said. “I think with a lot of the other schools, although they were all both academically and athletically excellent, I never really felt at home there.”

Although committed to Princeton, Kayleen still needs to maintain top grades and test scores and continue to work on her soccer training because nothing is guaranteed. Ivy League schools have very high expectations, both athletically and academically, and won’t hesitate to drop players who do not meet their academic requirements.

At Princeton, Kayleen hopes to study architecture. She is also interested in becoming a professional soccer player, but there are many obstacles women in sports encounter.

“I definitely have considered playing professionally,” Kayleen said. “but I also know that it’s much more difficult to make a career and a living out of being a professional female soccer player since it’s not nearly as lucrative as men’s soccer. And I also think it’s important to have a good college degree because it gives you more options.”


While Kayleen is unsure of what her future holds, whether it be designing soccer stadiums or playing in soccer stadiums, she is excited that she can continue to pursue soccer after high school.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far because I’ve worked really hard for it,” Kayleen said. “When I started playing soccer, I never even thought about college soccer at all. It was never my end goal. I was playing simply because I enjoyed and loved the sport. I never thought I would be where I am today and to be able to have all these incredible opportunities.”