TPHS soccer star ready for Yale

Katie Fletcher Courtesy photo

By Rob LeDonne

It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but 17 year-old Katie Fletcher first fell into what would become a lifelong love affair with soccer as a total fluke. “I played intramural soccer with friends at school for fun, but one day a friend of mine went to try out for the Rancho Santa Fe Attack club,” she remembers from her Solana Beach home. “I went with her and tried out on a whim and got placed on the best team; my friend didn’t.”

Since those humble beginnings playing club soccer as a kid, Fletcher’s encountered startling success on and off the field. Just recently she played her last game as part of Torrey Pines High School, and upon graduating is jetting off to the East Coast to study and play collegiate soccer at prestigious Yale University, the Connecticut Ivy League school. “I’m just extremely excited I get this opportunity, because so many people don’t,” she realizes, noting “especially how competitive recruiting is.”

Her path to Yale was no easy task, however, and it involved a significant amount of both hard work and luck along the way. Fletcher played with the Rancho Santa Fe Attack until she was 10, then between the ages of 10 and 17 she played for San Diego Surf, another club. All the while, she was playing soccer for Torrey Pines, sandwiched in between her sophomore and junior years attending and playing for Santa Fe Christian. Explained Fletcher about her grueling schedule, which involved both soccer and keeping her grades in top shape, “I was never bothered by the commitment. I was always the one choosing to do it so I didn’t even notice.”

It took Fletcher changing clubs again, from San Diego Surf to Albion, to help her future take shape. “I wasn’t that set on playing college soccer, but I had worked so hard academically in high school that I knew I could use my grades to go where I wanted. One day the director of the Albion club and my individual coach, Noah Gins, asked me where I wanted to play after high school. I told him Yale was my first and only choice.”

It just so happened that Gins had a friend who was the soccer recruiter for Yale, so Katie had a key “in,” and flew to Connecticut to check out the school and try out for its team. “After the tryout, they said they were going to call me in a few weeks to let me know their decision. So, I went home back to San Diego and he wound up calling me the next day and offered me a spot. I told him that I love the school, I loved the campus, and I’d love to play for you.”

The past few months have been bittersweet for Fletcher; she recently had her final game at Torrey Pines which she says felt inherently different than any other. “I never wanted to win as badly as we did this year. You could just feel it in the air... For the last game, we told the younger players to play hard as you can because so much was on the line for us. You can’t imagine what it’s like until you’re in that position.”

Fletcher and her teammates wound up losing to East Lake, but she doesn’t let that tarnish her years playing as competitive as possible and having her friends and family by her side. “My mom, from the first game I ever played, has probably missed only a couple; she never misses a game for anything and I love it, it makes it easier. My dad was there every game this season too.” All the while, she’s kept up stellar grades — even after being accepted by Yale.

Next fall, however, she’ll be playing on a different field, for a different school, with a different coach, and even on a different coast — but she’s looking forward to the change. “I love San Diego, but I would have been bummed if I stayed on the West Coast my entire life. I want to experience different things.”

Concerning her soccer career, Katie takes it all in stride. “I think — for sure — at moments I was in the right place at the right time, but in between there was so much time and effort and sacrifice,” she sums up. “This is the ultimate goal, it’s what I’ve been working on forever. I’m glad everything happened the way it did.”