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Seeger to follow Purdue soccer career with Wisconsin med school

During the past four college soccer seasons, Katie Seeger played for Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin was a Big Ten rival. Off the field Seeger has been a health science major who carries a cumulative 3.8 grade point average into her final undergraduate semester, and she plans to spend the next four academic years at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“I was very excited,” Seeger said of her admission to medical school. “That’s what I’ve wanted to do.”

The Medical College of Wisconsin is located in Milwaukee while the main University of Wisconsin campus, including the soccer facilities, is in Madison. Purdue is in West Lafayette, Indiana. “I always wanted to play at a big school and play on a big campus,” Seeger said. “I just liked the Big Ten atmosphere.”

Seeger, who in both her junior and senior seasons at Purdue would win the Ben Korschot Perseverance Award, didn’t play at Purdue without obstacles. Although she made the Fallbrook High School varsity team as a freshman and sophomore, during her junior year a tumor was found in her left foot. The tumor was benign and was eradicated by direct treatment rather than chemotherapy, but she was out from club and school soccer for approximately six months and saw limited playing time on the Fallbrook High School team.

Seeger recovered fully from her tumor, and as a senior she was named the Avocado League player of the year for the 2005-06 season. Seeger, who was an offensive midfielder for the Warriors, led the team with 20 goals and nine assists; 14 of those 20 goals were in Avocado League competition and she scored more than one goal against each of Fallbrook’s league opponents.

In addition to being the Avocado League’s player of the year, Seeger was also named to the all-CIF Division I first team.

Seeger also ran track and cross-country while at Fallbrook High School. Although she recovered from her medical condition, her limited play as a junior reduced her exposure to college recruiters.

Seeger, who was born and raised in Fallbrook, had a history of club play. She began with the Fallbrook Fury when she was eight years old and spent three years with the Fury before playing for Lightning, Temecula-Murrieta Soccer Club, and Freedom United. Her club coaches included Enrique Martinez.

Martinez graduated from Fallbrook High School and played soccer for the Warriors. So did his brother Trino, who now works for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake team. The Martinez brothers both played with 1984 Fallbrook High School graduate Rob Klatte, who has been Purdue’s soccer coach for 13 years.

Trino Martinez notified Klatte about Seeger. “We had the opportunity of watching her play on video,” Klatte said.

It didn’t hurt that Purdue had a strong pre-medical undergraduate program. Rollins College, an NCAA Division II school in Florida, had offered Seeger a scholarship. Seeger had been planning to play for Chico State University or the University of California, Davis, neither of whom offered her scholarships, before Klatte invited her to play for the Boilermakers.

“They recruited me, but they didn’t have any money at the time,” Seeger said. “He just wanted to check me out, give me a chance.”

Seeger went on a visit to Purdue. “Loved the school, so I ended up going there,” she said.

As a walk-on freshman, Seeger started one game in 2006 while appearing as a substitute in several others.

“She walked on as a freshman and ended up earning a scholarship,” Klatte said.

Seeger was given an athletic scholarship for her final three seasons. “I just had to earn my way,” she said.

Although Seeger didn’t start any games as a sophomore, she earned academic all-Big Ten honors. Seeger played forward for Purdue during her first two collegiate seasons, but she became the Boilermakers’ starting right defender as a junior.

“I think I was too small to play forward in the Big Ten,” said the 5’3” Seeger. “I got pushed around a little bit.”

The last game of the off-season spring practice following her NCAA sophomore season saw her begin the transition from forward to defender. “They just stuck me there,” she said.

“It was definitely difficult,” Seeger said of the transition to defender. “I was always an offensive player growing up.”

Seeger took advantage of the advance notice prior to the 2008 season. “Had a lot of training over the summer and worked hard,” she said.

She worked hard enough to earn the starting berth as a junior. “That was pretty difficult, but the coaching was awesome,” she said. “I ended up loving that position.”

Although she was now a defender, she scored her first two collegiate assists as a junior. One of those was during a 2-1 win over Ohio State in the post-season Big Ten Tournament.

Seeger’s junior honors included academic all-Big Ten distinction, the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award, and the Ben Korschot Perseverance Award, which is given to a walk-on who subsequently starts for the team and who exemplifies the spirit of determination which makes walk-ons successful.

“She had a lion’s heart. The kid just had an unbelievable work ethic. Her engine never quit,” Klatte said.

As a college senior Seeger was Purdue’s starting right midfielder. “She was comfortable in playing a large number of positions,” Klatte said.

Seeger started all 21 of Purdue’s 2009 games and played 1,380 minutes. She took 28 shots during the season. Four of those were goals, tying her for third among team members. Her four assists tied for second on the team while her 12 points ranked third among Purdue players.

“She certainly has a huge competitive nature,” Klatte said of Seeger. “She led by example.”

Purdue, whose national ranking was as high as fourth during Seeger’s 2007 sophomore season, reached no. 7 in 2009. A loss in the first round of the NCAA playoffs left the Boilermakers with a final season record of 12-6-3, including a 5-3-2 mark in Big Ten play. The senior class which included Seeger compiled a four-year record of 58-21-12 the most wins over any four-year period in the program’s history.

“We had a great record for my sophomore through senior year,” Seeger said. “We did well and had a lot of big games.”

Seeger received her second consecutive Ben Korschot Perseverance Award. “It was an honor to get that,” she said. “I think I learned a lot of that when I had that injury in high school.”

Seeger noted that after her tumor she had set a new goal of starting on a college team.

“Katie Seeger was an individual that I really felt maximized her capabilities,” Klatte said. “She developed, I think, from a good hard-working soccer player into a young woman who was very talented.”

Seeger also received Purdue’s Sportsmanship Award for 2009, and in addition to making the league all-academic team the College Sports Information Directors of America named her to the academic all-district team.

“It was just a blast,” Seeger said of playing for Purdue. “I loved it. It was the best thing coming here that could happen to me.”

Seeger’s father, Mike, is a general practitioner. “I’ve really been inspired by him, so I kind of knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Seeger said of attending medical school.

Seeger desires to have a medical career in pediatrics.

“She’s certainly someone that you enjoy being around,” Klatte said. “We’re excited about her future.”

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