DEKALB – Kylee Hermeyer is all about learning at Northern Illinois University, and her first lessons are coming on the soccer field.
A freshman from Dixon, Hermeyer doesn’t begin classes at NIU for about 2 more weeks. Before hitting the books, she’s finding her niche on the school’s women’s soccer team. The Huskies began practice in late July, they have a home exhibition match against Creighton on Friday, and the season opener is slated for Friday, Aug. 17 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Hermeyer, a 4-year standout for Dixon, is one of six freshmen on the NIU roster.
“Coming from the high school level and the club level to the college level, it’s definitely an eye-opener,” Hermeyer said. “It’s so much more intense. I like how it makes you push yourself. Sometimes in high school, you can have a bad day. When you’re here, you have to have good days all of the time.”
First-year head coach Julie Colhoff has been impressed with what she’s seen of Hermeyer at this early point of the season.
“One thing that really impresses me is that for being so young, she’s very composed,” said Colhoff, who comes to NIU after four seasons as an assistant at Illinois-Chicago. “That’s how she carries herself off the field, and also on the field. Being a freshman, being thrown in there, that can be intimidating sometimes, but that definitely does not show. She’s picked up on the tactics that we’re working on, she asks questions, and she works her butt off all the time.”
Hermeyer is likely to vie for playing time in the midfield for the Huskies, with the possibility of moving to the back row at some point. Colhoff noted playing time will be earned, and it will be an open competition.
“I’m constantly evaluating,” Colhoff said. “In my eyes, I don’t care if a player’s a freshman or a fifth-year senior, a walk-on or if they have a full ride. Once they step between the lines, it’s who’s consistent and who’s competing. Those things so far I’ve seen from Kylee the first week, so I would definitely say she’s on the right track to find herself on the field.”
One area where Hermeyer doesn’t anticipate problems is with the camaraderie of the team. The Huskies have been getting along on and off the field, making her transition to college life a smooth one.
“At some places you go, it’s like, ‘You’re a freshman, I don’t want to talk to you,’” Hermeyer said. “The older players on the team, they’ve been really inclusive. If we need rides, they give us rides, and do little things that you wouldn’t think a senior, junior or sophomore would be willing to do for a freshman.”
The biggest difference thus far Hermeyer has noticed has been the pace of the game. Athletes are bigger, stronger and faster, and it’s been a challenge to keep up.
“You’ve just got to play quicker, check over your shoulder and move constantly,” Hermeyer said. “It’s just more intense.”