The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Spotlight: Kirsten Russell

Kirsten Russell. Photo by Chris Lee.
Kirsten Russell. Photo by Chris Lee.
Kirsten Russell. Photo by Chris Lee.

Kirsten Russell led the women’s soccer team to multiple victories from the start of her career as the new head coach this season. As both an experienced soccer coach at multiple institutions and a talented soccer player herself, Russell is hoping to continue the tradition of Grinnell’s success during her tenure.

What got you into playing soccer? How long have you played?

Everyone plays soccer when they are five or six years old, right? What kid doesn’t like running around outside? I think I fell in love with the beautiful game because of the creative freedom that soccer offers. That, and the orange slices at half time.

What is the most memorable game you played during your career?

My [college] team lost in the [Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] finals two years in a row, and one of those was in the second round of the penalty kicks. Had my team won either of those games, and had we gone to the national tournament, maybe I wouldn’t be so obsessed with getting there as a coach.

You previously coached at Cornell College. How is the transition from Cornell College to Grinnell College?

While I am very proud of Cornell College, Grinnell continues to impress me across the board. The transition has been wonderful.

Are there any significant differences or similarities between the two teams?

The important stuff is the same. The attitude here is work hard, play to win and be a good teammate. These are women of incredible character, who love the game and demonstrate a strong work ethic. They are also very funny and a blast to work with.

This Sunday, the team is playing against Cornell College at home. How do you feel about the game? What are your expectations for the team?

Obviously, there are some emotions attached to that game. Luckily, it’s not about me. It’s about Grinnell women’s soccer and our goals. We face two opponents this weekend, and we need to outwork and outplay both of them.

What is an unforgettable experience you had with the team?

When I met the team on my interview, they made a profound impression on me.  I could tell right away that this was a healthy team with a fantastic tradition. Also, each player included her spirit animal when she introduced herself. It was perfect.

What is your favorite thing about Grinnell so far?

The Grinnell women’s soccer team. Without a doubt.

You graduated with a Masters in English. If you could choose a favorite book, what would it be?

“The Lord of the Rings.” I took a graduate course on Tolkien that changed my life. Plus, my fourth grade teacher did an incredible Gollum voice.

If you were not coaching, what do you see yourself doing?

I’m sure I could get a job as a barista by the beach somewhere, or maybe I could see myself teaching middle school art. Honestly, I already have my dream job.

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