Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics Site

Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics Site

Through The Eyes

An Oakland Athletics Site

All Over The World

By Kendra Zak

Something I always like to tell people is I have friends all over the world. Literally.

Growing up, my family traveled a lot for my dad’s job. It took us all over the globe. From Germany to California, Michigan to China, I’ve seen so many incredible things along the way that has only made my love for travel continue to grow.

But, one thing was constant. I could always play soccer, no matter where I was.

Everything in my life has been influenced by my travels – even how I play soccer.

Each country plays soccer just a little differently, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much this influenced my game. It has differentiated me from other soccer players.

Playing internationally with so many different cultures has made me a diverse and unique player. It has really benefited my game and my journey to Oakland.

I look back and think about all the experiences I’ve had and am nothing but thankful.

Travel is a big part of who I am, and I never want that to change.

Hating The Field

The first place I remember playing with a soccer ball was in Germany. Soccer is big in Germany, so it was natural that I started playing.

Although, initially, I didn’t gravitate toward the game. It was the theatrics of the sport that drew me in. I loved putting on the shin guards, the cleats, the jersey. But as soon as I walked on the field, I hated it.

I’d be all excited, but as soon as the first whistle blew, I didn’t want to run. And I certainly didn’t want to talk to kids I didn’t know.

My brother, funny enough, was the exact opposite. He hated getting dressed but loved running all around the field.

It’s still something I think about to this day. And I’ve come a long way since then.

I learned to love the sport when I was in Germany. It was there that I first started to realize that this may be my game.

Soccer was something that transcended wherever I was living.

After Germany, we moved to California where I started to play competitively. And then it was off to Michigan.

I kept moving up the ranks. I’d play in higher and higher levels of club soccer. I loved it!

Especially the challenge of competing against other skilled girls was something I always looked forward to.

But my family’s next move was to China.

And there, that philosophy kind of hit a roadblock.

One Of The Boys

In China, the girls’ teams simply didn’t have as much competition as the boys’ teams. There were high school teams, but there wasn’t a club level like in the States. And the high school teams weren’t nearly as competitive, especially for someone who liked to challenge herself.

I wanted to play with the boys’ teams over there because it gave me the best competition and was the only way to make me a better player.

So, that’s what I did. For four years, I played with the high school-aged boys’ teams in China.

But it wasn’t easy. There was definitely a little bias over there. A lot of the coaches thought I should be on the girls’ teams, but that didn’t phase me.

I was stubborn and didn’t care what they thought.

If nothing else, those teams made me tougher. They certainly had an aggressive style of playing, so I endured my fair share of bumps and bruises.

But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Playing with the boys’ teams made me a multi-dimensional soccer player. Not too many other players anywhere in the world can say they have had the experiences I had.

I think that’s what set me apart when I went back to America for college.

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I've loved my first two years at Oakland to the point where I don't have words to describe it. I love the team. I love the university. I love being on a roster that is always competitive.

Different Style

Michigan had always been our home base while we were in China. We’d go back there in the summers, so that area always felt like home.

Oakland was close by, and their soccer team had an excellent reputation.

I was very interested in the school. While it was a different recruiting process with me being in China and having a coaching change during my recruiting process, I still committed to my dream school.

I’ve loved my first two years at Oakland to the point where I don’t have words to describe it. I love the team. I love the university. I love being on a roster that is always competitive.

I honestly can’t believe I’m halfway through. It doesn’t seem real.

After school, I’ll probably end up stepping away from soccer. While it’s been one of the joys of my life, I have other ambitions.

Traveling is who I am.

It’s always been a huge part of my life.

While I obviously always felt a little sad or discouraged about moving again, I also had this great feeling of interest and excitement.

I love tackling new things and being immersed in different cultures and opportunities. And I never want that feeling to go away.

That’s why when I finish school, I want to continue to travel and see the world

At this point, I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do.

But I do know that my heart is in traveling and that passion will lead my journey.

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