Sickinger signs with Aurora U.
There were a few criteria Kendra Sickinger considered when she was choosing where to play college soccer.
Sickinger, a 2005 Lansing High graduate, wanted a school that would take her away from Kansas, one where she could meet people like her and one with a good marketing program.
Oh yeah, and one more thing.
"I wanted to go to a winning program because I come from a winning program," said Sickinger, who was a part of two Northeast Kansas Soccer League championship teams during her four years at LHS.
During her final season with the Lions, Sickinger led Lansing to an undefeated season in the Northeast Kansas Soccer League and earned first team all-NEKSL, all-region and second-team all-state honors.
Her new soccer team will be NCAA Division III power Aurora University in Aurora, Ill., near Chicago.
The Spartans have been a force in D-III for the past decade under coach Kanute Drugan. They've won six Northern Illinois Iowa Conference titles in the past nine years and appeared in the NCAA playoffs in 2001 and 2002.
After posting a 19-2 record in 2003, the Spartans had a rebuilding year in 2004 and went 12-9-1. Drugan said he thought Sickinger could play a key role in helping Aurora regain its place among the nation's best programs.
"We need a forward to come in and shine, and we're hoping that's her," he said.
"We've always been one of the top scoring teams in the country. Usually we're in the top 20. Last year we weren't, and we're looking for someone to help us do that."
Sickinger said she was aware that an opportunity exists for her to see a lot of playing time as a freshman if she works hard.
That's why she's spent her summer running, lifting weights and focusing on her conditioning.
"My biggest concern is going up there and being in the best shape possible," she said. "I think I'm already a good, skilled player, but you can't go in out of shape. It's been a ridiculous amount of training (this summer). I work out six times a week."
Drugan said that although he recruited Sickinger because of her soccer abilities, he was most intrigued by her personality and team-first attitude.
"Her teammates are important to her and she is completely unselfish," he said. "It's important to her that the team is a team, and I think she is a leader in that regard.
"Those qualities are things that are prevalent here (at Aurora), and from her perspective, it'll make for an easy transition. The values that she brings are values that we hold in place here."
Sickinger will attend Aurora on an academic scholarship because Division III schools aren't allowed to give athletic scholarships. She said she would study marketing and possibly pursue a career in advertising.
A lifetime Lansing resident, she said it was important to her to attend school outside of Kansas so she could experience a new place and meet new people. She said it also would give her a chance to face lots of new players from other parts of the country.
"I want to help the other players get better and see what other people can do," she said. "It's exciting because nobody will know me up there, so I want to be a really good surprise person and show people I'm capable of playing college soccer."