Athletics Q&A with freshman forward McKayla Harder

McKayla Harder

McKayla Harder is a psychology major, student in the Pierre Laclede Honors College and freshman forward on the UMSL women’s soccer team.


McKayla Harder may be a freshman, but she’s wasted no time in becoming a noted player on the soccer field. Already named a Great Lakes Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week, she is second on the team with nine goals this season and is primed for an exciting career as a University of Missouri–St. Louis Triton.

What has been your biggest achievement coming into college?

My biggest achievement coming into college was being selected as an all-state soccer player in the state of Illinois my senior year and winning four straight regional soccer titles in a row.

What were your personal goals for this year coming in as a freshman?

My personal goals for this year coming in as a freshman were to just do anything and everything I could to help my team win and also just to adapt quickly to the way college soccer is played since it is so much different than high school soccer.

You seem to be handling the transition from high school to college well on the field, what are some of the obstacles you’ve had to tackle both on and off the field?

Some obstacles that I’ve had to tackle on and off field as a freshman would be adjusting to how physical college soccer is and how much it takes a toll on your body. Ice baths have become my best friend ever since the season started. And off the field would have to be getting used to living away from home and learning how to really manage my time as a student-athlete.

Why did you choose UMSL?

UMSL had exactly what I wanted to study, which is neuroscience, both at the undergraduate level and graduate school level so that was a big factor as to why I chose this school as well as the soccer coach here (Wendy Dillinger) and the fact that she was so determined to make the program better than what it has been in the last few years, made me want to be apart of the UMSL soccer team.

How is this team different than other teams that you’ve played with?

This team is different from other teams that I’ve been on by the amount of work that everyone is willing to put in to achieve our goals as a team. It’s really awesome to be surrounded by people who want the same thing you do and are willing to work their butts off to get there just like you would. I feel like that’s something that the teams I’ve been on never really had. Everyone wasn’t all in like my teammates are on the UMSL team.

Do you have a certain pre-game ritual – certain daily routine, superstitions, etc.?

As far as a pre-game rituals go, I just listen to the same playlist before every game and eat the same kind of granola bar 45 minutes before every game.

The team has had a great year, what are some of the aspects that the team is focusing on to finish out the season?

Some of the aspects that the team is focusing on to finish out the season are just to get back to playing the style of soccer we know how to play and how we want to play and also just putting absolutely everything we have into these last games and practices so we’re prepared for post-season.

Kevin Smith
 is a UMSL senior majoring in criminology and criminal justice. He’s also a pitcher on the UMSL baseball team and an athletics media intern.

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