It’s easy to tell that Katie, Chris and Kevin Watt of Glen Ellyn are siblings. For one thing, they’re all redheads.
But here are a few more tidbits unique to the Watt kids:
Chris and Kevin are linemen for major NCAA Division I college football programs. Last fall, Kevin, a redshirt junior, started 12 of 13 games as a defensive lineman for Northwestern. Chris, a redshirt freshman, was a reserve left guard with Notre Dame and could move into the Fighting Irish’s starting lineup in 2011.
Later this fall, Katie—the youngest of Richard and Mary Pat Watt’s three children—will become a Division I athlete herself when she joins the University of Toledo women’s soccer team after graduating from Glenbard West this spring.
What’s it been like for her growing up with two football-playing brothers? Well, Katie notes it’s had an influence on how she plays soccer: tough and aggressive.
“My Dad says that I look like a football player when I’m out there,” she laughed. “It’s really been fun. We’ve always played sports together. They’ve just told me to leave everything out on the field.”
Katie, who signed her National Letter of Intent with Toledo in February, said her brothers have been very supportive throughout the recruiting process--one in which they, of course, went through.
“They gave me great advice as far as what to look for in a school,” she said.
Katie’s physical play caught the attention of Toledo coaches when they saw her competing with her club team, the Windy City Pride, at a Midwest Regional League tournament in November, 2009. Jen Whipple, then an assistant coach at Toledo, e-mailed Katie shortly thereafter.
“It’s really hard to take me down when I have the ball,” Katie said. “They like the way I control the ball when there’s a lot of pressure. They liked my speed a lot going to the ball and (going up) into the air, as well.”
Katie had been considering other schools, such as Loyola and Marquette, but she visited the Toledo campus later that month and verbally committed to the school following her initial visit.
“I like the tradition of the school,” she said. “They have a great community outreach with everyone. It was a family feeling with the soccer team and the school. I just felt at home as soon as I got there.”
Katie plays forward/midfielder for the Hilltoppers, but Toledo head coach Brad Evans likely will move her to center-midfield once she joins the squad.
“The head coach and I had a long talk about it,” she said. “They envision me as a center-mid, more of a person that can get the ball to other players.”
Making the switch, she said, won’t be a problem because she’s played multiple positions with the Windy City Pride. Last summer, Katie was part of the Pride’s U-18 E team that won nationals, held in August at Virginia Beach, Va.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to play in the tournament after suffering a badly sprained ankle in early July, but her coach inserted her into the lineup for the final five minutes of the championship game.
“It was one of the best moments ever,” said Katie, who’s played with the Pride for seven years. “We had great team camaraderie. It was our last hurrah because we knew it was going to be our last summer together. I couldn’t really sprint or do much with the ball (during those five minutes).”
Katie’s ankle healed enough after that for her to continue playing for the Pride into last November. However, she’s sprained that ankle several times over the years, causing ligaments to either become very loose or pull off the bone. So she underwent reconstructive ligament surgery on the ankle Nov. 17.
“It’s feeling really good,” she said. “It feels a lot better than it has in the past couple of years.”
With a new spring in her step, Katie is devoting all her energies to helping Glenbard West get to the next level. The Hilltoppers are coming off an 8-8-1 campaign in 2010, and have 13 returning players, including Lauren Davis, Larken Henkel, Andee Peterson and Molly Abromitis; Katie’s teammate on the Windy City Pride.
“I think we’re going to do really well,” Katie said. “Molly and I have played with each other for years. The newcomers have bonded (with the returning letterwinners) really well. We just have to get used to playing with each other and it will get easier.”