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Her heart beats for the sport

Andy Troeger | Thursday, September 4, 2003

With all of the negative press surrounding scandals and other problems in college athletics, it is comforting to find examples of athletes that play sports for all of the right reasons. Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team has a model of that kind of athlete, namely senior midfielder and defender Kim Carpenter.

“Kim is every coaches’ dream,” said Irish coach Randy Waldrum. “She really epitomizes what a young player should be.”

Carpenter came to the Irish after a strong high school career at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Webster, N.Y. Considering that Notre Dame and South Bend had been a fixture in her family for years, it seemed natural for her to play for the Irish.

“Notre Dame is a legacy in my family,” said Carpenter, who had two cousins, an uncle, and a brother that graduated from Notre Dame. “I basically was one of those kids who grew up with ND, and I’ve wanted to go here ever since I could walk and talk.”

She played sparingly early in her Notre Dame career, seeing action in 10 games as a freshman before playing in two-thirds of the team’s games as a sophomore. She recorded one goal each year while playing primarily as a midfielder.

“We found out about Kim through one of our summer camps,” said Waldrum. “We really liked her after getting to know her that week. We thought it would take some time for her to develop, but she’s been a constant for the team even when she didn’t play a lot of minutes.”

Carpenter saw her role increase dramatically as a junior as she played in all 21 games, including 20 starts at a multitude of different positions in the defense and midfield. This was due partly to her versatility and to the rash of injuries sustained by other members of the squad. From that point, she became a very consistent contributor for the Irish.

That developmental period has helped Carpenter become a team leader as a senior. Even as many of the injured players have returned, she has remained a fixture in the starting lineup through the first two games of the season. She also scored her first goal of the season in the season opening 9-1 win over Hartford.

“I know I’m not the most talented kid on the team and I know I never will be, but every day I step on the field ready to give 110 percent. I try to set a good example for our young kids by showing them that talent will only get them so far,” said Carpenter. “It’s heart and guts that will pull them all the way through, and eventually allow them to win championships.”

“She’s always positive,” said Waldrum, “and has really evolved into a leader. She’s like a third captain for us. She can reach young players because she had to be patient and put her time in. She’s become a phenomenal asset, someone that we really could not do without.”

“Notre Dame soccer for me has been a dream come true,” said Carpenter. “I always grew up saying to myself, ‘I’m going to play soccer for the Irish,’ but I never actually thought it would or could come true. I just reached out for my dream with all the passion and heart that I have, and somehow I got it. I consider myself blessed to be where I am, and for that reason, I will never take for granted the time that I spend in the Irish jersey.”