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SCC Soccer Player named All-American and Daily Republic Sportswoman of the Year!

(2 Articles from the Daily Republic)

Daily Republic’s 2008 Sportswoman of the Year: Katie Knopp

ROCKVILLE – The last four months have been a whirlwind for Katie Knopp.

In that time, the Solano Community College soccer star has gone from being ready to call it a career after the 2008 season to now being headed for an NCAA Division I program and two more years of soccer.

In between she’s compiled an impressive list of awards. Most recently she was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s All-America second team, putting her among the top 22 players nationwide at the junior college level.

She also led the Falcons to a second-straight Bay Valley Conference title, a No. 4 ranking in Northern California at the end of the regular season, and into the second round of the NorCal playoffs.

Along the way Knopp was named conference MVP and earned all-NorCal, all-state and all-western region honors.

All of that would be pretty impressive for any 20-year-old, but Knopp did it all in just 15 matches and with a broken collarbone. For that, she’s been selected as the Daily Republic’s 2008 Sportswoman of the Year.

In August, however, it looked as though this season may be the last for Knopp.

She said then that she was ready to focus on her schoolwork and get her degree, and just to play soccer for fun, with no pressure.

There were also concerns about the collarbone. She was concerned about re-injuring her left clavicle after snapping it in a preseason match in 2007, ending her season.

Fairly convinced that was the way it was going to be for her, Knopp went into the 2008 season as if it would be her last, despite the likelihood that she would have her choice of four-year schools.

But somewhere along the line, Knopp realized that she still has a lot of soccer left in her and began to change her mind about playing beyond 2008.

‘I realized how much I didn’t want to leave yet — I didn’t want it to end,’ she said. ‘My assistant coach said, ‘You only get to do it once.’ And I realized it’s only two more years.’

So when the four-year schools came calling after this season’s sophomore showcase, Knopp said she was ready.

Top among the Division I schools vying for her services were San Jose State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State, which signed Solano’s only other all-American, Andrea Salvador in 2005.

Ultimately, it was San Jose’s proximity to Fairfield (just 70 miles down Interstate 680) that won out.

‘I really like the coaches. They’re funny and down to earth,’ Knopp said about first-year Spartans coach Jeff Leightman and his staff. ‘They’re more focused on the players academically and setting them up for the future than just on soccer.’

That fact alone appealed to the studious Knopp, who carried a 3.40 grade-point average at Solano.

‘I wanted to focus on schoolwork,’ she said. ‘And knowing that the coach is there to support you academically and help you get through school felt good.’

With her academics in order, Knopp, who plans to major in business, is looking forward to getting on with her soccer career.

She’s quick to acknowledge that none of that would have happened if she hadn’t made one key decision after breaking her collarbone for the second year in a row.

‘I came back mostly because I had to sit out all of last year,’ she said. ‘It was my final year at Solano and I didn’t want to sit out again. All I really wanted to do was finish out the season.’

And what season it was. Knopp went on to score 14 goals and log four assists in her 15 matches.

‘I didn’t want to let my team down,’ she continued. ‘I really felt I did the year before even though it wasn’t in my control. I just wanted to play with my sophomores for at least one season.’

Looking back, Knopp said she’s glad she made that choice, and didn’t quit when so many probably would have.

‘(This year) was a lot of fun, especially seeing how much our team grew on the field and off,’ she said.

Finally ready to move on, Knopp said she’ll miss Solano, but that it’s definitely time to go.

‘I’ll miss our field — I love our field,’ she said. ‘I’ll miss the players for sure. It was a good group of girls this year. I guess I’ll miss Coach too.’

Falcons coach Jeff Cardinal is the one Knopp credits with her success and getting the scholarship at San Jose State.

‘Without him I wouldn’t have had nearly as many offers as I did,’ she said.

To Cardinal little of Knopp’s success came as a surprise.

‘She’s focused on her goals and very committed — she’s a high-level committed athlete,’ he said. ‘She knows how to train too.’

For all the time Knopp’s out in at Solano, Cardinal said he’s glad it finally paid off.
‘Katie’s been putting in an enormous amount of time. She’s been with us for three years, and she’s taken full advantage of being able to train in the offseason and the summer,’ Cardinal said. ‘Her attitude is positive, and she’s dedicated. Put all of those things together and that’s what an all-American is.’

Knopp is set to start at San Jose in January, and training will already be under way for the fall season.

‘I already have my winter training packet, and the spring packet,’ she said. ‘It will be fun.’

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or

Solano soccer player Katie Knopp named to All-America second team

ROCKVILLE – Even after all the awards and accolades that have come her way in recent years, there was one honor yet to come for Solano Community College soccer star Katie Knopp.

This week, it finally came.

Knopp was named to the All-America second team as a midfielder by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

The same organization had already picked her for its All-Western Region team earlier this month.

Now that she’s in the top 22 junior college players in the country, Knopp said the whole thing is a bit overwhelming.

‘I can’t believe that,’ she said. ‘I really couldn’t believe it at all.’

Knopp said she got the news Thursday morning when Solano coach Jeff Cardinal phoned.

‘Coach called me, which he doesn’t usually do, he usually e-mails me or lets me find out from the newspaper,’ she said. ‘I was the only one home, so I called my grandma, then my mom and my boyfriend.’

Cardinal was thrilled at the news, which he learned when he checked the NSCAA Web site (

‘Most junior college coaches go their whole careers without having an all-American,’ Cardinal said. ‘It’s really difficult to get an all-American in there and to have two in a few years that’s pretty awesome.’

Knopp joins Andrea Salvador as just the second Falcons player in the seven-season history of the women’s soccer program at Solano to be named to the All-America team.

Salvador was also the NSCAA’s junior college player of the year in 2005.

‘I’ve always known that Katie was that caliber of an athlete and that caliber of a player, and that she was on the same level with Andrea,’ Cardinal said.

After all the work she’s put in during her three years at Solano, and suffering — she’s broken the same collarbone twice on the field — this honor seems a fitting way to end her career at Solano, Knopp said.

‘It means more because it’s voted on by the coaches,’ she said. ‘To me it shows that the coaches have noticed the work and dedication I’ve put into the game.’

Cardinal agreed.

‘The coaches are the ones that vote, and she’s definitely a player who stands out in any game at any level,’ Cardinal said. ‘Even in the sophomore showcase, when you watch that game, they’re the best sophomores in California and she stood out there. She stands out even with all of the best players on field.’

Knopp will be honored with the other 21 players at a Jan. 17 ceremony in St. Louis.

She adds the All-America selection to an impressive list of awards from the 2008 season. She’s already been named All-Bay Valley Conference, BVC Most Valuable Player, all-Northern California, all-state and all-Western Region.

‘It doesn’t get any better than this,’ Knopp said.

Perhaps one thing could have made it better.

‘I do wish our team would have gone to the (state) finals,’ she said. ‘That would have been perfect.’

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or