Kiniyalocts is soaring higher than soccer


Kat Swift

Stella Kiniyalocts, ‘23, is a forward for the women’s soccer team, but before that she’s dedicated to her education. Kiniyalocts takes Aaron Cuchetti’s digital imaging course where she learns the basic functions of cameras and general photography concepts.

Stella Kiniyalocts, ’23, is a star player for the varsity women’s soccer team. She has been scouted by several collegiate programs, but has a vision for her future that might not include soccer. 

Despite her hesitancy to play soccer in college, Kiniyalocts is a standout player in the ECC. Earlier this season she was named player of the week, and held the leading scorer position in the league for the better part of the season. 

She has managed to earn 25 points this season from her goals and assists combined, with 12 goals, she is now only one goal behind the current leading scorers from West Clermont and West Clermont. 

Kiniyalocts began playing soccer when she was in Kindergarden at Pleasant Ridge Montessori. Her best memories of soccer relate to the bonds she has formed with teammates. 

“I’ve never been in a toxic environment with my team, which is really nice,” Kiniyalocts said. “[That] happens a lot, and can make people quit who are really good, every team I’ve had has been really supportive.”

She began playing club soccer in fourth grade for the Star Soccer Club and then for Kings Hammer Academy. She now plays for Cup Gold National Pro League, which is where she was introduced to the recruitment process. 

She worries for the missed opportunities if she were to continue playing soccer collegiately. With hopes to major in business, Kiniyalocts fears becoming a collegiate athlete could hold her back from her ultimate goal in life, to follow in the footsteps of her mother.

“My mom was a businesswoman when I was growing up, I’ve always been inspired by her,” Kiniyalocts said. “She would travel everywhere and it would always look like so much fun.”

She feels her mom is her biggest supporter. “I’ve never said something to her where she hasn’t been supportive, she’ll give me a good cop bad cop vibe, but the support is always there,” Kiniyalocts said.

Her mom takes her everywhere for the recruitment and college process. “Even not being sure that I want to play in college, she’s still ready to commit to me,” Kiniyalocts said. She also has a close relationship with her father, who is supportive of her decisions as well. 

Her parents hope for her to play in college. They believe in her talent as an athlete and have invested time and money in her athletic career. However, she wants to attend a D1 school, but playing soccer doesn’t seem to be in the best interest for her career, and her parents support her either way.

“I want to be able to take internships [in college], and playing D1 is like a second job, I don’t know if I want to commit to that,” Kiniyalocts said.

Kiniyalocts scored one of the four points put up by the Eagles in their game against Colerain Highschool, the other goals were scored by SENIOR Sophia Cuchetti, Mariah Couch and Emma Weber. (Kylie Bridgeman)

To put herself in the best position for the future, Kiniyalocts prioritizes her grades above all else. “It’s hard being a student athlete, I just work really hard,” she said. 

Utilizing some extra time during the pandemic, Kiniyalocts was able to take time to study, practice soccer, and research colleges, allowing her to realize what direction she wants her path to take. 

“Your grades affect how you play on the field,” Kiniyalocts said.

She credits her academic success not only to her own dedication, but also to her coaches and their prioritization of school. Kiniyalocts has a close relationship with head varsity coach Jim Price, who supports her and her teammates, on and off the field. 

Kiniyalocts wants to leave a legacy of being a coachable kid and a good teammate. 

“Attitude is a huge thing, if a coach pulls you aside and tries to coach you, you need to listen,” she said. “Most of the time they’re going to be right, I didn’t always listen but at the end of the day they want what’s best for you and the team.”

She urges younger athletes to listen and stay focused, and hopes to soon decide what her future will look like as she approaches her SENIOR season as the 2021 fall soccer season comes to a close.