‘Fierce competitor’ Klug signs with Doane
Spend some time in conversation with Lakeview High School senior Makenna Klug and you’re likely to crack a smile. Her big grin and positive demeanor are infectious.
Get in her way on the soccer field however, and you’ll have a much different encounter.
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of her personality from regular life to competition are about as drastic as it gets. Klug’s coaches and teammates wouldn’t have it any other way.
As of Tuesday, she’ll take that aggressive approach to Doane College where she’ll continue her soccer career. Klug officially signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Tigers.
“She’s been an impact player every year of her career. She’s started every game since she was a freshman and has made a huge impact building the girls program,” Viking coach Mike Zimmerman said before the signing.
“She’s a good leader, she works hard in practice and all the games. I’m just going to miss her after this year. Her and that senior class are kind of changing the program up here.”
Klug’s group has won 10, 10 and nine games during their varsity careers. In the three seasons before she and her classmates were on the roster, Lakeview win totals were three, nine and four.
There, setting the tone in the midfield has been Klug. With an unstoppable determination and high-level understanding of the game, Klug has put together seasons that included 10 goals and six assists as a junior, 10 goals and seven assists as a sophomore and three goals and two assists as a freshman.
“I went on a recruiting trip, and when I got there, I absolutely fell in love with Doane. It’s whole atmosphere, the campus, the atmosphere of the soccer team was just compelling,” Klug said before putting pen to paper. “Everything they offered in a team, I wanted.”
Klug was considering Midland, Nebraska Wesleyan and Concordia before Zimmerman received a text message from Doane coach Jennifer Kennedy-Croft inquiring about any players interested in playing at the next level.
Kennedy-Croft was already familiar with Lakeview talent having picked up a commitment Bailey Sloup the year before. Kennedy-Croft invited Klug and the family to the campus in Crete in late August and the decision became clear.
“Here at Lakeview, we’re really close and we all joke around and everybody enjoys the game of soccer. That’s one thing Doane had - everybody enjoyed the game of soccer,” Klug said. “Everybody was knowledgeable in the game and knew what they needed to fix.
“I got to see a game and see their team dynamic up close. It was very similar.”
Doane went 3-15 this past fall, 2-14-2 the year before and 3-11-2 in 2016.
The Tiger’s top mark was in 2012 in a 14-6 year in which they won the Great Plains Athletic Conference and advanced into the NAIA national tournament.
Kennedy-Croft took over the program in 2016 and is working on returning the Tigers to a competitive record. In her own college days, Kennedy-Croft was a member of the Connecticut team that played for a national championship in 1990.
“Having seen her play a couple of times, I just thought she was really tenacious,” Kennedy-Croft said of Klug. “She’s got some good speed and some good skill and she’s going to help us on the outside.
“Bailey is a quality person on our team, and I know they’re really good buddies. We know that they’re both hard-working athletes and are disciplined in all of those character areas you want in an athlete.”
Klug began playing soccer at the age of 5. From then on the love grew and grew. Once she began playing most of the year for a club team in the third grade, she fell completely in love.
Though she hasn’t grown a whole lot since those days, both Zimmerman and Kennedy-Croft would tell you, Klug plays much larger than her small stature would indicate.
She never backs down for a larger opponent, uses her quickness and speed to her advantage and has acquired a knack for scoring with her head.
“I’ve been told I’m not afraid to use my head to get the ball into the net. I was the leading scorer for headers on her team. I score, but I also contribute,” she said.
“Probably my favorite goal was this one header that was coming perfectly across and I just nailed it right into the back of the net. Seeing everyone on the bench jumping up and screaming, I’ll always remember that.”
Though Tuesday was about Makenna Klug, all of her favorite memories have to do with shared achievement. When she hands up her Lady Vikes cleats for the last time, she wants to be remembered as one among many who left the program in a different spot that it had ever been.
“My goal is when I leave this soccer program, I want our class to make a difference. I want our class to rewrite soccer here at Lakeview,” she said. “We were the first team my freshman year to make it to sub-state, and most of our roster were freshmen.
“We’ve been first in the conference each of my three years, and we’re hoping to get a fourth. That’s something I really take pride in - building up the program at Lakeview.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org