You see it all the time a player in high school has a hard time making the transition when it comes to taking their game to college. Fans wonder out loud what happen to the same person who was scoring five goals a game went.
What people might not know is that there are a lot of factors that go into the success of a college student-athlete. In high school, a player may be a cut above everyone else – and therefore get their goals at a record pace.
In college that same player is finding it hard to have that same success. One of the reasons, obviously, is the competition. The second could be a position change. There are many time a high school athlete is recruited by the school only to step on campus and have a completely different position on the field.
University at Buffalo’s Kara Daly knows all too well what it’s like to change positions when coming to college. A prolific forward during her time at Hamburg High School, Daly steeped on the campus at UB and saw her self playing outside midfielder.
It was a transition that Daly had to get accustomed to. Instead of being the one that is counted on to score all the time, now Daly was asked to set plays and defend more.
“I think the biggest difference from high school to college in the aspect of scoring goals is the fact that I moved positions from a forward (high school) to an outside midfielder in college,” stated Daly. “ And the obvious fact that playing at the DI level calls for significantly higher competition level where scoring five goals in one game is nearly impossible.”
Just like she has always done, Daly took the new position in stride. She isn’t one of the players who gets nervous before a game, or feel the pressure when the game is on the lines. After all, Daly is used to feeling the pressure.
At Hamburg, Daly was counted on to score all the time. She had the pressure on an entire team on her shoulders. Daly knew as she went so did the team. At UB, Daly is focused on trying to help her team get the win.
It doesn’t matter if it setting up a goal, scoring a goal, or making a great defensive play, Daly is out to contribute as much as she can.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 3 years old so I never really seem to feel too much pressure anymore. I go into every game with the mindset of helping the team get on the board somehow,” stated Daly. “Whether that be actually scoring a goal or assisting a goal. Of course that doesn’t always work out for me, but personally I think it’s important and very beneficial to go into the game with a direct personal goal in mind.”
This season, Daly has added leader to her resume. Being an upperclassman on a young team has her showing the girls the ropes. Being a leader is nothing new for the experienced Daley. She was a captain on her Hamburg team, and is used to responsibilities that come with being a leader on a team. She knows the younger girls will look to her experience as a college athlete.
They will look to her guidance as someone who has changed position once entering college. Daly understands its her job to mold the younger girls into solid teammates.
“I knew I was going to be leaned on to be a leader on this team and luckily for me I have had previous experiences of being a captain so I didn’t have to prepare too much to step up into a leading role,” stated Daly. “I believe my leadership style is being very vocal but in a positive manner. I think it’s very important to use the right tone when trying to get your point across so the message doesn’t get lost. I also think it’s just as important to highlight the things players are doing properly and not only emphasize that negative aspects. I also try my best to lead by example on the field.”
Daly also knows that you need to have a short memory when playing college soccer. In high school a player may have numerous opportunities to score, or if they make a mistake it may not end up in the back of the net.
In college one little mistake could cost the team a goal and possibly the game. Having a short memory, and learning from the mistakes, is extremely important to a successful college career.
“I think it’s super important that younger players understand how to have short term memory. Everybody makes mistakes during a game whether it be making the wrong decision, or making a bad pass or missing a shot, but great players are capable of forgetting that bad play and can immediately make a positive impact instead of harping on the mistake and letting it get to you mentally,” stated Daly. “It is so important for an athlete at this level to be able to move on from bad plays or even overall bad games. Staying positive is the best thing you can do.”
During the offseason, Daly has continued to work on her game , and hone her skills. For the past couple of seasons she has played for the Western New York Flash. Daly has been able to play against some of the best competition in the country, which helps her improve on the things she needs to succeed.
Even in a busy summer, Daly knew that getting the extra touches before her UB season started was extra important.
“The past couple of off seasons I have lifted with our strength and conditioning coach Annette Stutzman three-four times a week to focus on getting stronger and more explosive. I also do a day of pure conditioning which entails different kinds of track exercises. I also play for the WNY Flash UWS team to ensure I continue playing at a high level while getting touches on the ball so I am prepared for the Fall season,” stated Daly “I think playing for the WNY Flash has helped my game because the team is filled with such talented players who play all over the country at the DI level at big time schools. It is such a competitive atmosphere and that means you have to show up with 100 percent effort every time you touch the field for practices and games.”
Daly would never close the door on trying her game at that the professional level if they opportunity presented itself. But, she also knows that at some point she will have to put the ball away and move on to her next chapter.
Playing since soccer since the age of 3, Daly has put a lot of time on the fields. She has put a lot of time in playing at tournaments and trying to get noticed.
“If the opportunity presented itself to continue playing soccer at the next level, I definitely would,” stated Daly “But as of right now after college I plan on using my degree to get a job and begin my career.”