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The Saratoga Falcon

Senior verbally commits to play Division I soccer at UC San Diego

Kate Oberhauser
Senior Kate Oberhauser plays against Santa Monica Surf Soccer Club at San Diego Surf Cup on July 30.

As college coaches lined the sidelines of the freshly cut grass fields at the Surf Sports Park during San Diego Surf Cup last summer, senior Kate Oberhauser — an attacking midfielder for the varsity team and De Anza Force club team — hoped to impress onlookers as she dribbled down the sideline, weaving skillfully through defenders, ultimately crossing the ball into the heart of the 18-yard box.

Surf Cup, one of the largest 4-day tournaments in the country, showcased the “Best of the Best” players for college coaches to recruit; held from July 28-31 in Del Mar, Calif., it was one of the most important weekends of Oberhauser’s soccer career. 

Ever since she attended one of UC San Diego’s identification (ID) camps in late June, the college’s coaches had shown interest in her. They told her they would come out to watch her play at Surf Cup to see if she would be a strong fit for their Division I program.

“The coaches I was communicating with told me they really liked me, but they couldn’t make a decision based on just seeing me in the ID camp,” Oberhauser said. “They said they wanted to see me in a club environment and watched me at Surf Cup. A few weeks later, they offered me a spot.”

Oberhauser’s soccer journey began when she was 5 — as an attacking midfielder, she played on West Valley Soccer Club until she was 16 before moving to De Anza Force Soccer Club the summer before junior year.

She said her West Valley coach Wayne Kania was especially instrumental in her college recruitment. He developed her technically and tactically as a player, influencing the style of play that she brings into her games for both club and high school soccer. Her ability to keep the ball in tight spaces, along with her dribbling skills and vision to read the field has made her an irreplaceable playmaker and vital asset to her team.

Getting recruited had been one of Oberhauser’s goals for a while, but she didn’t begin actively reaching out to schools and getting on their radar until the middle of her junior year, later than many serious high school athletes these days.

“I wasn’t that well educated on how the [college recruitment] process was supposed to work,” she said. “I knew I wanted to play in college, but it wasn’t until last winter that my parents and coaches pushed me to start [reaching out to schools].” 

At the beginning of her recruitment process in December 2022, Oberhauser sent mass emails to all the colleges she potentially wanted to attend and introduced herself with highlight videos. With the responses she received, she began developing relationships with coaches and attended school-specific ID camps.

With a limited number of schools emailing back, her list of prospective colleges became narrower — UCSD topped Oberhauser’s list as she loved the campus, the environment and the coaches she interacted with.

“I feel like there were many places that I could have been happy at, but in the grand scheme of things, UCSD is definitely a dream for me,” Oberhauser said.

During the first few weeks after Surf Cup, Oberhauser doubted that the UCSD coaches were going to extend an offer, especially because they had not been communicating with her since the tournament. 

But in late August, when they texted her during Spanish class to set up a call, Oberhauser was in complete shock. For the rest of the day, she anxiously waited for the phone to ring; once the UCSD coach officially offered her a spot, she immediately texted her parents, siblings and her old West Valley coach, ecstatic for the opportunity. Oberhauser felt relieved to have found a place at a school that she believed she would be a good fit for and be happy at.

To athletes who know that college recruitment is a path they want to pursue, Oberhauser urges them to start reaching out and making connections with coaches in their sophomore and beginning of junior year, especially because it was stressful for her to start the process late.  

“I would keep hearing from the players and coaches from my ID camps and club team that ‘you’re going to end up where you’re meant to be or everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to be,’” she said. “And I heard this many, many times during the process, and I never believed it, but it turned out that way for me, so I definitely feel like it has some truth to it.”

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