Above photo of Kacie Flanakin by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
BELTON- The UMHB women’s soccer team is extremely experienced, with nine seniors on the roster in 2022. But head coach Barry Elkins also brings to Belton a number of talented freshmen, who will doubt continue the success and culture of the program in the seasons to come.
One of those standouts is forward Kacie Flanakin, a native of Austin, who makes the transition to the college level after a successful club and prep career. She leaves Regents School of Austin as the school’s all-time leading scorer, a three-time Offensive MVP and a three-time team captain. Her senior season was capped off by earning TAPPS All-State honors and already, she has seen the field in UMHB’s pre-season exhibition matches, finding the back of the net against Jacksonville College.
True To The Cru caught up with Flanakin before the season to discuss her high school career, battling back from a knee injury and much more in this edition of “Catching up with the Commits”.
You’re now a couple weeks into fall practice. What has the transition to the college level been like so far?
KF: “I would definitely say the biggest surprise for me was the mental aspect of the transition from high school and club soccer. I’m a freshman now, so I’m at the very bottom and having a lot of pressure to perform perfectly. The pace in practice is definitely a lot faster than what I’m used to. But other than that, it has been really good.”
You dealt with a pretty serious knee injury suffered last year. How did it feel to just be back on the field in a game setting in the exhibition against Jacksonville College?
KF: “It has definitely been a very positive experience to be back on the field. Scoring [against Jacksonville College] was a confidence booster for sure. It’s tough with Maria [Rico] at my spot and Mackenzie Worthy, but it is more motivating for me to work that much harder in practices and scrimmages to perform the best I can in the chances I get in the games.”
How difficult was the rehab for that injury?
KF: “It was very long and honestly, a lot harder mentally than physically. It’s just taking those small steps to be able to walk again and to run again. Now to be able to be back on the field [after that long recovery], it is motivating to know that I’m behind everybody, but that I have to work that much harder to be on the same level.”
You played your high school soccer for Regents down in Austin. They have a exceptional program there, and you were a big part of that success. What did you take away from your four seasons there?
KF: “Playing for Regents made me find my love for soccer again. Playing club can tear you down with some negative coaches, and I was definitely put down a lot. But then going to Regents, and playing with my friends, and for my team, it made me realize how much I enjoy the sport for the sport and how much I really love soccer. It also made me want to play college soccer.”
As you were evaluating your options to continue playing at the college level, what made UMHB the school for you?
KF: “Definitely the community here, and the facilities are really nice as well. I always wanted a faith-based school and a community that surrounded each other in God’s love. That’s what I’ve found with this team. We do team Bible studies, we meet with the coach’s wife, and we’re all so close. We’re all cheering for each other and want each other to have success.”
As you enter your freshman season, is there anything specific you’re working on? Any goals you have?
KF: “To get technical, I’m working on retaining the ball and certain aspects of my game. Outside of that, coming in as a freshman, my goal is to mostly get as much playing time as possible, knowing that I’m going to have to work my way up to even just getting time on the field. And then the team goal is to win the conference and beat Hardin-Simmons. This is definitely the year.”