DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke women's soccer team finished in a 1-1 tie with Wake Forest on Sunday, October 14. Recently, GoDuke.com sat down with senior defender Erin Koballa to learn more about the Wrightsville Beach, N.C., native.
GoDuke.com: What has been your proudest moment at Duke?
Erin Koballa: Definitely when we made it to the national championship last year. Obviously it didn't go as well as planned, but the whole journey to get there and the whole team experience up to that point was awesome. The whole road up to the national championship was amazing. There were games when we came back from a 1-0 deficit, we had people step up and score amazing goals. It was such a team effort. We had people who didn't even play make a huge impact, and it was just awesome to know that we were all on the same page; all had the same goal to win.
GoDuke.com: What is the most misunderstood thing about your sport?
EK: Offsides! We joked around about it in film yesterday that even some of us don't understand it. It is definitely the most confusing rule for people who don't understand soccer.
GoDuke.com: What's your favorite part of being a Duke student-athlete?
EK: The name that comes with it. Everyone knows what Duke is. They know who you are and you stand out because you play a sport at Duke.
GoDuke.com: What is your favorite spot on campus?
EK: I like the law school refectory. It has great food, and it is nice to study there because it is not super quiet but it's a little busy now and then. So eat some good food and study and hang out.
GoDuke.com: Any words of wisdom for freshman or future Blue Devils?
EK: This might sound deeper than I mean it but just be prepared for whatever opportunity may await for you. Always be prepared because you never know what is going to happen or what opportunity or situation you might be thrown into.
GoDuke.com: Tell us about when you first started playing soccer?
EK: I feel like I was kind of a late one. I didn't start until I was eight years old, but I think most people start when they are three or four. I wasn't very good at all. I scored one goal, and I was a forward so it was kind of pathetic. I played recreationally one year, and then I went to camp, and absolutely fell in love with it. That was kind of the turning point. I actually started to want to get better, and I was always one of the faster kids so I kind of relied on my speed to get me through, but I fell in love with it after going to camp. I absolutely hated it at first which I know sounds awful! I wasn't good at it and I didn't understand it. I would just kind of sit there and watch, then went to camp and it clicked!
GoDuke.com: What was your favorite food when you were a child?
EK: Ice cream is definitely my vice. I can eat ice cream any time of the day. I am a huge chocolate person. I also love milk and cookies, really anything with chocolate. All of it is right up my alley!
GoDuke.com: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
EK: I would love to go on a massive shopping spree, but I don't know what I would get. I would also love to travel, and stay at the nicest places and not have to worry about the price. I have always wanted to go to Australia, so that would be one of the places I would go to. I have been to England, but I would love to travel around Europe, but not backpacking. I want to stay in great places.
GoDuke.com: If you could not play soccer for some reason, what other sport would you play?
EK: I have only really been good at soccer so it's hard to know. I did swim a little growing up, and I liked volleyball, but I don't know if I have the height. Volleyball is fun, and I love that you can get really emotionally involved in the game and pump each other up. That was fun.
GoDuke.com: Do you have any hidden talents?
EK: I can wakeboard. I used to be good. I used to be able to flip around and do a 360 on the water. I don't know if I can still do it anymore. I can knit so that is kind of exciting. Last winter, somebody in my class was knitting and we all realized that we all know how to knit so we started knitting scarves together. There are like four or five of us who know how to knit.
GoDuke.com: What is one possession you can't live without?
EK: As pathetic as it sounds my computer and my phone. I use them on a daily basis almost, especially phone.
GoDuke.com: Anything on the iPod that might be embarrassing?
EK: I definitely have some of those old, cheesy Backstreet Boys types. I was a huge Backstreet Boys fan so I have some of that on there.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
EK: My parents for sure. I just feel like so much of my personality and what makes me me is from them. They have been so supportive in everything that I have done, ever no matter what it is, good or bad. Even when I am in trouble, they are always supportive and help me out. As far as soccer goes, my high school coach who also used to coach her as an assistant for the men, Al Pastori has Parkinson's disease, but he has done so many things for me, and opened so many doors for me. He is also an inspiration. He has battled Parkinson's for a long time, and is really a true role model.