By Hector Rios-Morales
The Auburn women’s soccer program allocates a lot of talent from all over the nation, with exciting players from different states coming to Auburn in hopes of developing their soccer collegiate careers. One of those talents is from Dayton, Ohio. Katie Grunder, one of the six seniors on the team.
Grunder started her Auburn career during the 2014 season, seeing action as a forward on the pitch. She then spent her sophomore season at the College of Charleston, where she was looking for a different type of challenges and experience.
After having a good spell at Charleston, she came back to Auburn with a lot more of experience gained during her season away from The Plains – experience gained on and off the pitch.
Now, in her senior season at Auburn, Grunder wants to make sure she leaves her beloved team with no regrets, and focuses only on leaving with an SEC championship under her belt.
AuburnTigers.com: When did you start practicing/playing soccer?
Katie Grunder: I started playing soccer when I was four, and honestly, I was trying every sport at that age. I have been a very active person. I tried basketball and I was on the swim team. At the time I started playing, I was a goalkeeper and I just liked soccer because all my friends were on my team.
AT: Entering your senior season, is there a different feeling to it?
KG: Yeah, it definitely feels more special. It feels different because you have younger girls looking up to you and looking for guidance and support, and you are kind of forced into stepping into the role of leadership, a role that you never had to play before. It has been already a special season in that way.
AT: What did you learn from your experience at the College of Charleston?
KG: I left Auburn kind of looking for something different in the aspect of playing time. I did not play a lot on my first season, and I thought that was all it was about. Especially when all my other freshmen classmates did get more playing time, so I went to Charleston and played a good amount of minutes there, but I found myself missing more than just the soccer team, especially my friends here, the staff and the Auburn family in general. You do not get that anywhere else.
AT: What is your relationship with the Auburn family and Auburn in general?
KG: I never get homesick because my team is my family, and our coaches take over with a parenting role and look after us. I don’t ever go a day thinking that I miss my home or I miss my family, because I have them playing soccer with me every single day.
AT: Is there any professional soccer player you idolize?
KG: I really like Tobin Heath from the Portland Thorns. I like her style of play. I like our Women’s National Team, because I look up to them. Knowing how hard they had to work to get there because I know how hard we had to work just to get here is such a big accomplishment in my eyes.
AT: You are one of the six seniors in this team, is there any role you play to develop the younger players?
KG: It depends on each person. I have been on the bench and I was a started when I was in Charleston, so I kind of played both roles. So, for people to come to me and ask for advice is important. As a senior, this year, being that person that is always working hard, I don’t want my teammates to question my work ethic.
AT: From the experience gained from last season, what is the goal/target for you as a team?
KG: For the team, we have said that we want to make it as far as possible. A goal that I am holding on with my teammates is for an SEC Championship because I want a ring. We haven’t done it since I have been here and we came close last year, and I know that we can get that far again, even go farther. Especially with the talent that we have all over the team.