“I didn’t know I was good enough”
by Than Acuff
In just two seasons of playing competitive soccer, Gunnison High School senior and Crested Butte Titans soccer player Karina Davalos has garnered the attention of NCAA Division II program and hometown school Western Colorado University.
Karina first started playing soccer at age eight with the Gunnison recreation department. She continued with the program until eighth grade, but during that time thought her soccer days would come to an end, as there was no girls’ high school program. Then she got some news from one of her friends.
“My friend Ella Lapello told me that Crested Butte was starting a girls’ high school team,” says Karina. “I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have to play with the guys anymore, and it was a start to something better with the two communities. I knew the travel would be hard, though.”
Unfortunately, her high school soccer career came to a temporary halt before it even started as she tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee during basketball season of her freshmen year. She had to wait until her sophomore year to get the surgery so she wasn’t able to actually join the program until her junior year, last year.
Karina had an immediate effect on the team when she joined, bringing additional offensive firepower to the team. She helped get them to the semifinals of the 2A state tournament. More important, though, was her energy and commitment.
“Her teammates and everyone around her recognize what she brings to the team every day,” explains Crested Butte Titans head soccer coach Julia Kidd. “It is her drive and her goal to be the best player she can be that sets her apart from most high school players.”
Karina returned this year and is the current leading scorer on the team, including a hat trick in their first round state tournament game on Tuesday.
Yet, the thought of playing collegiate soccer never crossed her mind.
“Soccer has been my passion throughout my life but I thought I would just play high school and that was it,” says Karina.
Until recently, when it became apparent that her soccer career might continue into college.
“We’re recruiting her to our program,” says WCU women’s head coach Amy Bell. “We get our players from all over. We have students from Vermont to California and of course several Colorado based players. I believe talent can be from anywhere. Population and location do not determine the characteristics we look for in a future Mountaineer. I grew up in a small Colorado mountain town and I am not afraid to recruit from them.”
“I was just really surprised,” says Karina. “I didn’t know I was good enough.”
While her grades are as solid as her playing, there is no guarantee Karina will end up attending and playing for Western.
“Money-wise college is going to be hard,” says Karina. “It’s been a struggle but it’s been good for me. It would be great and I don’t think anyone from Crested Butte or Gunnison has played for Western. It would be cool to be one of the first people to do that and have the support of the community.”