Tamaqua senior Kailee Rottet had no idea what kind of soccer talent she possessed when she entered her freshman year.
Rottet, who has played the sport since she was four years old and has been on travel teams since age nine, just thought she was going out for the varsity soccer team. Of course she wanted to compete, of course she wanted to make the starting line-up, and of course she wanted to win, but she had no idea that her ability could take her where she is today.
Fast forward to the present and Rottet has become the most lethal scorer in Tamaqua girls soccer history. She has broken all of the notable scoring records at the school and most importantly will be taking her talents to the next level.
Wednesday afternoon at Tamaqua High School Rottet signed her letter of intent to play Division 1 soccer at Binghamton University. She is the first girls soccer player ever in Tamaqua school history to receive a scholarship to play Division 1 soccer.
"I honestly thought nothing would ever come out of it when I first started playing," said Rottet. "I didn't even know what districts or leagues were my freshman year when we qualified. Needless to say, I started getting pretty good and then in my sophomore year Binghamton contacted me. That's when I was like wow I could really play at the next level if I put the hard work in."
That's exactly what Rottet has done. She plays soccer all year round for the FC Revolution out of Reading, has trained on her own, and has also attended numerous college showcases. It was when Rottet attended her first college showcase that she knew it was time to step her game up if she really wanted to compete at the next level.
"When you go to a showcase it's one of the most nerve racking things in the world," said Rottet. "They have college coaches on the sideline with their little notepads writing things down, which could put a lot of pressure on somebody to perform. After seeing the kind of competition at the showcase I knew I needed to get in a lot better shape if I wanted to play Division 1. So that's what I did. I played as much as I could, I trained hard, and I ran as much I could."
It would be an understatement to say that Rottet's hard work paid off.
She was the first Raider ever to be named first team all state in back-to-back seasons. She broke the all time scoring mark held by 2011 graduate Allison Updike (88) by scoring a total of 100 goals in her career. She also broke the single season goal scored mark (38) and single game record (5).
Maybe the most impressive aspect of all of Rottet's goals scored is that she scored most of them from the midfield spot. For those of you who are not soccer savvy, the midfielder's job is to link defense and offense. It is their job to both defend and attack, therefore scoring that many goals from that position is extremely rare. It wasn't until her senior season that coach Clem McCarroll moved her to the forward position, meaning Rottet scored a career 62 goals from the midfield spot.
"I knew Kailee was going to be something special when I first saw her play in sixth grade at our off-season open gyms. She just had a tremendous amount of athletic ability," said McCarroll. "So when she came in as a freshman and played well, to the league it looked like she came out of nowhere but we weren't surprised. The reason why she's so successful out there, really anywhere we put her, is because of her motor. She just never gives up, she plays offense, defense, and she doesn't just hang up front either. Playing midfield for most of her career it was really up to her to get the ball herself if she wanted to score."
Now that Rottet is on her way to Binghamton the level of the competition will certainly be elevated. Rottet is ready for the challenge and wants to cement her name in the Binghamton record books as well.
"I know there is going to be a lot of good players at the next level and I'm looking forward to that," said Rottet. "I'm going to be playing forward there too, so I want to score goals and I know it's a very big aspiration to say I want the goals scored record at Binghamton. Right now it's very unimaginable, but a lot of the things I accomplished so far I didn't expect four years ago. If I work hard hopefully I can do that."