Athlete of the Week: Kendall Kloza

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

The UTSA soccer team began their conference play after an impressive 6-2-1 start to the season. The story thus far this soccer season has been the defense, led by fifth-year senior Kendall Kloza. The ‘Runners are currently first in Conference USA with the fewest goals allowed. The defensive line of Kloza, Sasjah Dade, Deja Sandoval and Sabrina Hillyer have forced four shutouts, combining for 72.5% of defensive challenges won. Kloza has won 79% of her defensive challenges, along with 70% successful tackles and seven interceptions.  

“Scoring goals is just as important as stopping goals,” Kloza said. The pride on the defensive side of the ball is huge for anyone, especially for the captain of the team. “I’m very proud of our back line, me and Deja have been playing together the last four years. We know each other very well. I know exactly where she’s going to be at all times.” 

This defensive line is what drives the team, and Kloza makes sure that mindset is instilled in her teammates.   

The former defensive player of the week and second-team All-Conference player takes her role on the team differently, not just commanding the defense, but also mentoring the team. Kloza wants her teammates to know she does not just have their back on the field, but also off the field.

 “It’s a lot of making sure all my teammates are doing the right thing, feeling good mentally, emotionally, physically, kind of putting myself second,” Kloza said. A team goes as far as its leaders take them and having that reliable leader on the team is important. “I’m not a captain to boss anyone around and make things happen all the time. It’s honestly just being there for my teammates in a way that isn’t the coaches or anyone outside of that.” 

Kloza commanded a lock-down defensive line and also lit a spark for the offense. UTSA’s offense is top 30 in the nation in statistical categories such as assists per game, shots per game, points per game, total assists and total points. Kloza has over six goals as a defender, including the game-winning goal this season against Stephen F. Austin University. You would think that an athlete of this caliber would have superstitions or rituals to help mentally prepare; however, Kloza is big on focus. 

“I am very picky about my alone time,” she said. “I honestly just sit by myself and calm my nerves. I don’t wear the same thing every day, as long as I have my alone time then I’m fine.” 

Kloza does not just take care of her business on the soccer field, as she is a three-time C-USA Honor Roll member. The fifth-year senior is focused on her team and season now, but she is also looking at the possibilities she may have in the future. 

“I don’t have an exact idea,” Kloza said. “I work with football a lot in their recruiting department … I’ve been coaching at a CrossFit gym, I honestly cannot tell you exactly where I’ll end up, but something in the sports world for sure.” 

As the athlete Kloza is, there is no doubt she will find another way to keep that competitive fire after graduating.  

With the Roadrunners getting into the peak of their schedule and staying on top of classes, Kloza has little free time. However, when she is able, she loves to play with her dogs. 

“I used to work at a veterinary hospital so I love animals. A lot of my time outside of soccer and school is spent with my two dogs, either at the dog park or we go to Starbucks a lot for some pup-cups,” Kloza said.  

Since it is her final year of eligibility, Kloza wants to make this season as memorable as possible. Of course, she wants her individual achievement, but higher on that list is UTSA making a run for the conference title.

“Getting defender of the year in Conference-USA, I kind of just want to go out with a bang,” Kloza said. “And for the team, I definitely want to win [the] conference, both the regular season and in the tournament. Make a run in the NCAA tournament, I’ve never been able to compete in the NCAA tournament and that would be really awesome I think for my last year to get to do that.” 

There are about six weeks until the C-USA tournament, and plenty of time for Kloza to build her defender of the year case. In the past four years, Kloza has had a huge impact not only on the defensive line but also on the UTSA team as a whole.