Family matters: Kassey Kallman latest in long line of soccer stars
Kassey Kallman grew up watching each one of her older siblings excel on the soccer field. Now they’ve all been able to see her become one of the best players in the country.
Kallman - a graduate of Woodbury High School and senior at Florida State - earned an incredible number of individual accolades this year, including being named All-American, the Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC, the Most Valuable Player of the ACC tournament and one of 15 semifinalists for the Missouri Athletic Club’s (MAC) Hermann Trophy, which is soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy.
This past season Kallman started all 28 games in leading Florida State to a berth in the national championship game for just the second time in school history.
Kassey has five brothers and sisters - Brian, Brad, Brent, Krystle and Kylie – four of whom, like her, played soccer at the NCAA Division I level.
Kassey’s brothers Brian and Brent each currently play professional soccer in the North American Soccer League for Minnesota United. Her sister Krystle was a lynchpin at West Virginia for three years before transferring to Minnesota where she is now an assistant coach. Her sister Kylie also was a standout player for the Gophers.
Kassey said she gives her brothers and sisters a lot of credit for her success.
“Growing up I watched their games every weekend,” Kassey said. “I was tagging along and being exposed to soccer at the level they played at such a young age really expanded my knowledge early on.”
Kassey said one of her biggest attributes on the field is her vision and her ability to analyze the game. She believes that ability was borne out of being around the game her entire life.
“That definitely comes from being involved in soccer at a young age and having five older siblings that played it,” she said.
Though Kassey was the first Kallman to be named All-American in college, she said she won’t be boasting about it.
“I think they brag for me more than me bragging to them,” she said. “We’re extremely close and super supportive of each other. We’re only competitive when we’re going against each other. It’s not about who can do more and get further with their career.”
Needless to say, the Kallman family is fairly iconic in the Woodbury soccer world, famous in the state of Minnesota and is now well-known across the country.
Funny, though, that their parents Rich and Laura, never played soccer.
“All six kids played all the sports they could when they were younger,” said Laura Kallman, who ran track and played basketball growing up in Nebraska. “All three girls were captains of the Woodbury High School basketball team, played volleyball at Lake Middle School and softball when they were little. My sons all played hockey and football when they were younger and wrestled or played baseball, too. For some reason they all stuck with soccer. We didn’t force that on them. We wanted them to play every sport.”
Rich Kallman said he just wanted to keep his kids busy and so they would stay out of trouble.
“You can raise your kids and tell them what’s right and wrong, but if they have too much free time sometimes kids make bad choices,” he said. “All the kids played lots of sports – pretty much everything they could – until they had to start making some decisions. You get to a point you can’t play them all and things start to fall off.”
With soccer beginning to emerge as their kids’ favorite sport Rich and Laura got immersed into it as well.
After moving to Woodbury 19 years ago, Rich and Laura became involved in the Woodbury Athletic Association. Laura was the Woodbury soccer club president for five years, was the vice president for another five years, and now runs the Woodbury Sports Foundation as a volunteer.
Rich, who worked for UPS, took nine years off from his job in order to be able to watch all his kids play soccer around the country.
This past season Rich said he put about 45,000 miles on his car driving to watch Kassey play. But, he said he drove around much more in the past, especially when Kylie, Kassey and Brent were all playing college soccer at the same time.
“When there were multiple kids playing I would put on more miles,” he said. “I’d typically leave on a Wednesday morning and watch games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday back and forth throughout the country. There were weeks I put on more than 5,000 miles.”
Rich said he could’ve planned his retirement for age 55, but delayed it so he could be a part of his kids’ college soccer careers.
“I could’ve worked the next 11 years and retired, but missed a lot of what my kids were doing or I could quit and spend the next nine years watching them then go back to work when they were done playing,” Rich said. “I just didn’t want to miss everything just to work.”
With Kassey, Rich got to witness something truly exceptional.
The youngest Kallman started every game for Florida State, tallying 27 points on 10 goals and seven assists. She was a fixture in the backline since her freshman season, helping lead the Seminoles to three straight College Cup appearances, two ACC tournament titles and an ACC regular season championship.
Kassey said, out of everything, winning this year’s ACC tournament stood out in her mind.
“It’s a big deal because of how competitive the ACC is,” she said. “It’s very tough. If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game you can lose to any team in the ACC. Being able to win the ACC tournament is a huge testament to the hard work we put in. That was pretty exciting. Making it to the national championship was our goal, but winning it was part of that goal too. It was very exciting getting to that stage, but we definitely weren’t satisfied with how it ended. We hoped it would end better.”
Kassey said because she’s a defender she’s used to not being recognized for individual awards and was never really “into those types of things” anyway. However, she did say being named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Tournament was pretty special.
“I really just wanted a national championship for my team,” Kassey said. “Definitely getting some of those accolades along the way was an honor though. It was exciting to see how people felt I was playing. To have people watch the tournament and recognize me as one of the best players definitely took me back for a second. I couldn’t really believe I won that. That was more of a shock to me than any of the other awards. Being on the All-American list is not so bad either though.”
Though her career at Florida State is over, Kassey is far from being done playing soccer.
She will play in the National Women’s Soccer League and will likely be one of the top picks in the NWSL Draft on Jan. 17. Kassey also hopes to one day play in the Olympics for the United States national team.
Right now, she’s on track, playing for the United States Under-23 team.
“That’s obviously a huge goal of mine,” Kassey said. “Hopefully I just keep improving and can get to that stage someday. It’s obviously extremely difficult to do and even when you get invited to a camp it’s hard to break into the team, so I definitely don’t feel entitled to anything. But, the coach has seen me perform at camps and has talked to my coach about eventually inviting me to the full team. I feel hopeful and when I get the shot I hope to do well there.”