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Women in Sports: Kent’s Kayla Fischer ascends to professional career in soccer

Women in Sports: Kent’s Kayla Fischer ascends to professional career in soccer


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor

For a moment, Kayla Fischer was ready to consider leaving soccer behind.

After a record-breaking career at Kent Roosevelt and becoming a three-time All-Big Ten performer at Ohio State University, Fischer mentally began to shift her focus toward her graduate degree and her future as a nurse practitioner.

Both of those career milestones will still happen at some point.

Just not yet.

After conversations with her mother, boyfriend and family, Fischer came to a realization that there was a dream still to fulfill: To be a professional soccer player.

“I only will get this opportunity once and it would be silly for me not to pursue it,” Fischer said.

The most prolific soccer player in Portage County history made herself eligible for the National Women’s Soccer League and her special moment came on Jan. 13, 2023, when she heard her name called with the 16th selection in the draft by Racing Louisville FC.

If she was nervous on the day of the draft, she did not have time to think about it much.

“The day of the draft, I had my first 12-hour nursing clinical, so I spent the entire day holding babies and that definitely kept me calm,” said Fischer, who watched the draft from her apartment in Columbus alongside many family members and friends.

Nobody could have imagined the soccer life that Fischer has authored when she first started playing for Kent Parks and Recreation when she was just 3 years old, when her father Rob, who died unexpectedly in 2021, was her coach during her formative years in the sport.

However, her love for the game — and all sports for that matter, as she played basketball, flag football and softball — along with her passion to compete allowed her skills and knowledge continue to develop.

Fischer holds Kent Roosevelt’s career scoring record with 73 goals and she was named the Suburban League Player of the Year. She initially committed to Indiana University, but then changed course and attended Ohio State.

For the Buckeyes, Fischer appeared in 84 games, including 79 starts, and she finished her career with 28 goals, which ranks eighth all-time in program history. She also had 20 assists, which place her fifth all-time and her 304 attempted shots are second-most in school history.

Fischer has earned her opportunities already with Racing Louisville and netted the first goal of her professional career on June 14. She received a crossing ball from the right side of the field that scooted through the middle and found her on a run down the left edge of the goal box, settled it with the first touch of her left foot, then used a soft touch with the outside of her right foot to set up a right-footed shot that soared into the back right corner of the goal.

“First of all, I am playing with some really great women. Some really great players, so the ball I got played was amazing,” Fischer said. “I wasn’t really thinking of it at the moment, but after watching it back on film, all I could think about was that they played me such a great ball and created such a great opportunity that if I would have missed that shot, it would have been terrible.”

Fischer didn’t have to worry about that, though.

Instead, it was another career first to celebrate.

“It was a great feeling and to have all of my teammates react the way they did made it special, too,” Fischer said. “I just stood there in shock and all I could think was that this is great.”

It is an emotion that Fischer finds herself feeling often lately.

Soccer is her job.

She said that even she has had a hard time believing it.

“It is not something I think about every day, but when I put a lot of thought into it, it is emotional for me,” Fischer said. “It has taken me so long to get to where I am today. It is crazy that I get to call soccer my job. I am so thankful to have such a passion in sports that I can have it be my job. Not many get that opportunity.

“When I was little, I was just playing soccer and having fun,” Fischer said. “I wanted to be Alex Morgan and now I get to play against her.”

Now the eyes of adoring fans are falling on her.

At a recent Racing Louisville game, there was a young girl that had first met Fischer at an Ohio State camp a couple of years prior, who was calling for Fischer as she walked off the field after a game.

“We were talking on the field and sharing a moment,” Fischer said. “I thought to myself, that was me. I was like that girl. One day maybe we will be playing against each other.”

• Editor’s Note: Six of Fischer’s Racing Louisville FC teammates are currently playing in the World Cup, including the USWNT’s Savannah DeMelo.

Also Nigeria’s Uchenna Kanu, China’s Wang Shuang, Brazil’s Ary Borges, South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana and Australia’s Alex Chidiac.

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