Friday (Sept. 3) marks the first game for the Harvard women’s soccer team, and forward Katherine Sheeleigh, a senior, intends to make her final season a memorable one.
“Soccer is definitely the highlight of my year,” said Sheeleigh. “I’m thrilled to take in one more year of soccer and enjoy every day. I’ve definitely gone with the motto of not thinking about it ending and telling myself, ‘I’m a sophomore!’ ”
It’s been a wild four years for the economics concentrator. Injured for portions of her freshman and junior years, Sheeleigh kept her determination, and helped in winning back-to-back Ivy League titles and reaching the NCAA tournament in the past two seasons. She’s been a three-time All-Ivy League honoree and in 2007 was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Last December, her team elected her co-captain, alongside Gina Wideroff.
“It’s been amazing working with Gina, and it’s an honor — to be a captain — that I’m really excited and grateful for,” said Sheeleigh.
Sheeleigh also has excelled off field, maintaining impressive grades while juggling a hectic athletic schedule. She was named to the Academic All-Ivy League team in the past year, as well as to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District third team. By the end of last month (August), she was a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award, which honors both athletic and academic excellence.
“Academics are my biggest priority,” said Sheeleigh. “It’s all about time management and being on top of everything. And I’ve taken advantage of Harvard’s resources to help me.”
Though concentrating in economics, after Harvard Sheeleigh plans to pursue graduate school for physical therapy.
“I love sports so much that the idea of not having anything to do with sports is just horrible,” she said. “With physical therapy, I can work with athletes, help them, and really understand their desire to get back on the field quickly.”
During January break this year, Sheeleigh traveled to Majuro in the tiny Marshall Islands of Micronesia in the South Pacific. There, the New Vernon, N.J., native worked with local students to improve their English skills for college entrance exams and assisted in a 12th-grade class in English as a second language.
Over the summer, Sheeleigh volunteered as a counselor at Camp Kostopulos, a facility in Salt Lake City for children with neurofibromatosis.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” Sheeleigh said. “I really love meeting new people, and I love forming relationships with people that have experiences so different from mine. As cliché as it is, it’s true that when you volunteer you get so much back. I’ve learned so much.”
But now soccer is in session, and Sheeleigh’s ready for the action this season promises.
“I’ve thought about this a lot, and I really love the competitive nature of soccer. I really love when you’re on the field with your teammates working together to accomplish a common goal. When plays go well, or someone hits an awesome shot, or a goalie makes a sweet save, to me that’s so exciting. I love soccer because every day I have fun playing,” she said.
“I’m excited to be back on campus with our team, getting to know the new freshmen teammates, really becoming one team and shooting for our goal of winning a third Ivy League championship, making an impact in the NCAA tournament, and making the Harvard soccer team proud.”