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A Varsity Q&A with Long Reach senior captain Rachel Kim

As a four-year varsity letterman at Long Reach, Rachel Kim has seen personal success while playing for the Lightning, earning a first-team all-county selection a season ago.

Now, as she and her teammates have gotten going in her final year, the senior captain expects big things from her young team. Long Reach started off its season on a high-note, defeating Howard County perennial power Centennial, 2-0.

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Kim hopes the success continues and believes the amount of potential this particular Lightning group brings is endless. She recently sat down and spoke about her senior season, her future plans and what she thinks about first-year Lightning coach Sam Haddad.

I know it's early, but how do you think your team has done so far this season?

I think in the beginning of the season we didn't know how the season was going to go, with the new coach and everything. We heard a lot of new players were coming in. We ended up having five freshmen on varsity now, which is a lot of underclassmen because we also have five sophomores, so 10 total underclassmen. With all that combined, everyone was kind of like, "we have the potential to be really good, but also, who knows how the season is going to go?" The first game against Century was kind of tough, trying to get everyone together and chemistry wise it was kind of off, but we've been working really hard and (first-year Long Reach head coach) Sam has been pushing us a lot over the past couple weeks. We all have been pushing ourselves and I think that's been really helpful…we have definitely grown as a team together, which is going to help us a lot over the season. Even the game against Centennial — which Centennial is a really good team — I don't think anyone really thought that we would have played as well as we did.

Being a senior captain … beating a team like Centennial, showing the rest of the county how serious you guys are, how does that make you feel?

It was definitely a good feeling. I mean, honestly out of all four years, I think it was the first time I've beaten Centennial, which means a lot to me personally, but I think as a team it was a really good statement win. They have players like Reese Western, their goalkeeper Allie Durkee -all their players are really good, so just being able to get a win like that… we are really proud of ourselves and (our) work ethic in that game specifically. And being a senior and a captain, being part of a team like this means a lot. I keep saying "potential, potential," but honestly it is really true. It is so early in the season, and the fact that we are being so successful right now, it makes me excited to be a part of it.

The majority of your team is made up of underclassmen. Although you haven't been playing with most of the younger girls very long, how is your chemistry on the field?

Overall I think something that we all do well on the field is our work ethic. There's no person that comes on the field that doesn't bring 110 percent effort and that kind of brings everything together. There's no one not sprinting after a ball, or trying to win a tackle, and so with all that effort building up on each other it really puts things together.

How has it been having Sam Haddad as your coach in his first season, and how has your relationship evolved?

I love Sam. He makes it really clear to me and he keeps telling me that his relationship with me is not like a coach-player, but more like a partnership. We're in it together. He keeps me in the loop with a lot of things, which I appreciate. A lot of times you are on a team and the coach kind of tells you what to do, not really (saying) why he does it, and doesn't really ask for opinions — that's what most coaches are. But Sam is really involved with the team. He likes to goof around and stuff like that, which lets the girls have fun, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, like tactical stuff and fitness stuff, he gets it done, which I appreciate. You can see him as a friend, but more so as a coach, and you appreciate that relationship a lot.

For your personal goals for the season, I know you are one of the top players in the county, how important is it for you to make all-county and maybe even player of the year?

It is the kind of thing where it would be a nice recognition, everyone always likes that. It's kind of assuring you of all the work you've done is showing on the field, but I don't want to sound cliché, but I am more so looking for our team accomplishments. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I seriously see us being a top team in the county. If we're number one, two, three, five – 10, who knows? I feel like as long as we're successful and play the way we know we can, I feel like that would be enough for me.

Any college plans?

I'm going to the College of Charleston in South Carolina. (Kim will play Division I soccer for the Cougars next fall.)

When did you make that decision, and was it relieving getting that decision out of the way?

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Pretty recent I guess, it was a week or two before school started. It was definitely relieving, just because it was something that I really wanted to do, the pressure of it not happening, there is always that possibility. Like (if) a plan falls through or a coach loses interest, because that happens all the time. I was working on (getting recruited) sophomore and junior year, so with all that hard work getting into it and finally, I'm like OK, it's done. Thank goodness, it's happening… That was the issue before, I wanted to do well in high school, but I also wanted to stay fit for club, because if I'm fit for club, then I can do well for recruitment and stuff like that. Now it is kind of more open, just chill, just do what you got to do.

Did you pick a major and if not, is there something you are leaning toward?

Not yet, but when other people ask me that I always say business, just because I like math, but I also don't know what to do. So business is pretty general, so that's what I like to say, whether or not I'm still interested in that a year or two from now, who knows?

Do you have any siblings? And do they play soccer as well?

I have three sisters — two older and one younger, so I'm kind of like the middle child. No actually… it is really funny because my sisters joke around with it all the time and I'm pretty sure it is true — I'm the boy of the family. Because we have no boys, but I'm the only one doing sports, so it's like, I'm technically the boy.

Is your family really supportive, do they come to a lot of the games?

My younger sister, we've been dragging her to games since she was like way young, so she doesn't really like it any more, but my mom comes to almost all of them. My dad has work usually, so he tries to come when he can and my older sisters they come too. So they're really supportive, and they definitely like to put their input in, as all parents do. It's awesome having a family like that, and not everyone has a family like that, so it's just the fact that they like to come out to everything, it is just awesome.

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Do you watch any soccer on television?

Yeah definitely, obviously the women's national team, but when it's not on, the only other soccer I have on my TV is the English Premiere League. I really dig Manchester United. I know Jessie Hopkins from River Hill likes Chelsea a lot and I always get on her whenever they lose, which is rarely. So it's fun. It's a little rivalry there.

Are you a big Wayne Rooney fan?

Yeah, I love Rooney, he's a big finisher.

Who is your favorite soccer player, and who do you think you relate to the most on the field?

It's such a hard question because there are so many good players. But I think my favorite men's player, I like Ronaldo because he is beautiful and he is so fast. It's awesome. And women's player, I like Tobin Heath a lot, she's on the national team. She is really technical and she works hard all the time — 110 percent effort every game. And again, she's really technical, some of the moves she pulls off are amazing, like mind-blowing. So I don't want to say I'm Tobin Heath, because that is a really bold statement, but if I could be her, I would take that or Ronaldo. It's OK, he's a boy, but that's OK.

For an ultimate goal for the season, what do you think is the most realistic and what do you think you guys can accomplish this year?

One goal that we set as team, that Sam emphasized, was our record last year was 4-7, so his goal for us is to reverse that. So we want to be 7-4, and I think that is a reasonable goal considering the factors: first-year head coach and all these underclassmen — who are all brilliant. Our whole team brings something to the table, which is why I think 7-4 is a very realistic goal for us. So I don't want to say I don't believe we can win states, because of course I do. Whether or not that is actually accurate or not, I can't say, because I'm a little bit biased. But in a couple of years though, I think this team will be amazing … just one or two years.

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