From the Rocky Mountains of remote northwest Wyoming to New England, Kailee Ingalls is taking a leap of location, culture, climate and even diet at the next stop of her soccer career.
The Sheridan native and Northwest College sophomore looked at York College and Doane University in Nebraska among others to continue her career as a defender in the sport she loves. But she then surprised everyone — father Lee and mother Melissa included — by signing last Friday to join the University of Maine — Fort Kent Bengals.
Like most soccer players who compete at her level, Ingalls began playing the sport as a child and promptly fell in love. Her passion did not subside one iota as she went on to youth club soccer and Sheridan High School before becoming a Trapper under coach Aaron Miller.
“I love it,” she said of the sport. “The challenges. You have to work for 90 minutes” non-stop in this most aerobic of ball sports.
“I’ve never been to the East Coast,” Ingalls answered, adding she expects “a real cool experience” immersed in Maine. Like Wyoming, “There’s lots of stuff to do outdoors” in what is guaranteed to be an adventure.
Fort Kent is located in far north Maine, “only about 50 miles from Canada,” said her father with a sigh, no doubt pondering the challenges of seeing his daughter play.
Enrollment is just over 1,500 students and the campus sits in the Saint John Valley region, “a center of French American culture” where most adults speak both French and English, according to the university’s Wikipedia page.
UMFK is a member of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, an association of more than 80 schools that hosts the “Small College National Championships.”
The Begals’ women’s soccer team is coming off a 12-6-1 season that culminated in winning the USCAA title — the team’s eighth national championship in 10 years.