By AUSTIN COLBERT
If it had been completely up to her, Hays High School senior Lacey Pfannenstiel probably wouldn't have gone out for the Indians' soccer team as a freshman. It took a little persuasion from her mother, Julie Pfannenstiel, and the girls' soccer coach at the time, Chris Michaelis, to get her onto the field.
"Her freshman year she was pretty reluctant," said Julie Pfannenstiel. "Didn't know if she really wanted to go out and coach kept hitting her up here at school and I said, 'Just go out and try it this one year. If you don't like it, then I'll lay off. But you got so much talent you need to put it to use.' "
Pfannenstiel started playing soccer in first grade and continued in club sports growing up. But there came a point when she got burned out by it and had no plans to play in high school. Finally, after constantly being pushed by her mother and Michaelis, she decided to give soccer another shot.
"I fell in love again and I knew that was a sport I really wanted to play," Pfannenstiel said. "After freshman year I saw the high school level of competition and I knew I wanted to get better. That's why I did a lot of individual stuff and worked through the summer. I wanted to get better and be able to play in college."
That reality became real on Friday, when Pfannenstiel signed her National Letter of Intent to play soccer for Bethel College, an NAIA level school located in North Newton.
Bethel coach Anthony Turini first approached Pfannenstiel during her junior season and it was during the fall of her senior season she finally made the decision to become a Thresher.
"I really liked the faith background there. The girls really made me feel I was at home and fit in. That was what really pushed me to come there," Pfannenstiel said. "Even though I toured a lot of the other colleges, it was the one at the back of my mind that always came up."
Pfannenstiel expects to play midfield for the Threshers, the same position she has been so dominant at for the Indians the last three seasons. She was named honorable mention All-WAC as a junior, helping guide Hays High to a school best 15-3-1 record and trip to the state quarterfinals.
Her success in high school certainly hasn't been a surprise to Michaelis, who stepped down as the team's coach at the end of last season.
"I remember Lacey coming to some of her summer camps when she was young and just her work ethic, I saw some potential," Michaelis said. "She had some speed and quickness and she wasn't afraid, got in there and knocked the ball around, knocked people around. That left a lasting impression in my mind and I knew when she came up to high school as a freshman, I wanted to get her out and play."
Pfannenstiel has plans to become a physical therapist with an emphasis on athletic training. She would like to go on to medical school at the University of Kansas after her time at Bethel.
"It's very heartwarming," Julie Pfannenstiel said. "She has put her heart and soul into soccer and all of her hard work has paid off. This is a dream come true for her."