Soccer a family affair for Klodnicks

Kent Klodnick paced down the sideline before staring down his camera from the sideline at Hoops family field. After a brief survey of the players on the pitch that evening, he found his initial target, his daughter McKenna starting at center back.

Although all position players for the Thundering Herd are unique, the all-white jerseys splashed with the green numerals help maintain a level of uniformity, allowing the group to blend together from a distance. Kent never has any trouble finding his daughter though, as she always wears a headband that has become a signature piece of attire. For this game in particular, it’s a bright neon lime green.

“I think she brings out a different headband every day,” Marshall University head coach Kevin Long said. “For her, it looks like the brighter the color, the better the headband, but it’s a nice addition to her uniform.”

“I started wearing them in high school,” McKenna Klodnick said. “I got here to college and Kevin actually commented quite a bit on my headbands and I told him I have a drawer full of them at my house. When I don’t wear one he will ask.”

Long attributed the influence of other players now wearing similar headbands to Klodnick. Klodnick not only wears the headband to games, but also to every practice.

Klodnick attributes her interest in soccer to her brothers. She would play any sport they played, often resulting on her playing on boys’ teams. Although clearly athletically inclined, Klodnick also danced competitively until eighth grade, but made the decision to pursue soccer, visiting camps and playing in a competitive traveling squad until joining her high school team.

Klodnick displayed record breaking skill for her high school. The now junior defender was a huge standout at midfield for Rocky River High School in the Cleveland, Ohio area. She earned four varsity letters, was team captain for two years and set the team record for single season and career assists. She was also a part of the team that won a championship in 2013 for Ohio Division II. That was the school’s first championship in 86 years.

While Klodnick would go to Marshall, the talent around her proved to be skilled as members of the team went on to play at Oakland, Northern Kentucky and the University of North Carolina.

Klodnick said the decision to come to Marshall was based on a number of factors, such as the new facilities, the distance from home, and the camps she had attended at Marshall. The feature “We are Marshall” added a level of intrigue and character to the university.

The step up in difficulty from high school to college level soccer motivated Klodnick. Her freshman year, Klodnick got 68 minutes of play across seven games. While that is just under ten minutes a game, she was not deterred, with the goal of wanting a starting spot.

Returning her sophomore year, she logged over 1000 minutes over 16 games, starting in 13. Marshall was historically good, playing for the Conference USA championship, but falling just short on the wrong end of a 1 – 0 game with North Texas taking the win. Klodnick has been named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll both years playing for Marshall.

Klodnick attributes her growth at Marshall to two seniors on the 2015 championship contending squad, both products of the Boyertown Pennsylvania area, former Thundering Herd goal keeper Lizzie Kish and midfielder Jenna Dubs. While expressing that it was a group effort, those two names surfaced and provided motivation and support.

While the past year was great for Klodnick and the Thundering Herd, the future of the women’s team is mostly on the field around Klodnick now. Freshmen are starting in key positions around her, and sophomore players thrust into roles they had not been in before, playing significant minutes. This team may not hit the historic high of last year’s squad, but the talent is there, albeit raw. There has been a noticeable improvement on the defensive side already this season, as many young players are developing.

The transition has now placed Klodnick in a leadership role, with her opposite center back Freshman Metz Gonzalez. Klodnick had praise for the young defender feeling the two compensated for each other’s weaknesses, and had great communication for the pairing.

When questioned about the future of this season, Klodnick acknowledged wanting to another shot at North Texas. The Mean Green of Denton, Texas were the spoiler for the Thundering Herd last year, and that has left Klodnick, among others, eager for the challenge of contesting them again. That match was scheduled for Thursday September 22.

After graduation, Klodnick is looking forward to graduate school. She is studying speech language pathology, and that requires a Master’s degree to further pursue. After obtaining that, she hopes to work in a Hospital, and with children as well. Two teammates of Klodnick are also studying in that field, and she has a professed love of the field, and cannot stop talking about it with her friends.

Joseph Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and on twitter @Joseph_AshleyMU.