Pitch Perfect: Kristen Purcell
HERKIMER — Former Herkimer Community College soccer standout Kristen Purcell sits on a narrow wooden chair no longer than a foot wide with a jovial smile as she reminisces on her time at Herkimer CCC.
She talks about the jubilee, the success, the funny moments with teammates, but recalls vividly how Herkimer was a stepping stone of sorts — to propel her to her dreams & aspirations.
Purcell was born-and-raised in Sauquoit; a small town 17 miles west of Herkimer. Much like most high school students, she didn’t know where she wanted to continue her education after high school.
“The idea of going to a community college 25 minutes from home didn’t really sound like the most appealing thing when I was still in high school,” said Purcell. “Then I was recruited to play soccer (at Herkimer) and it was the only school where I could see myself fitting in. Looking back on it, coming here was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
This past season, she totaled 33 goals (4th most in NJCAA Div. III) and 16 assists (6th most in NJCAA Div. III) in 19 games for the Generals leading them to their third consecutive national championship appearance.
In her two years with Herkimer, the Generals were 30-6-1, and outscored opponents 168-to-30.
“She’s the ideal student-athlete that you always hope to coach,” said Herkimer Women’s Soccer Head Coach Jason Palkovic. “Purcell was very good academically, and on the field she was a very good leader who gave me everything she had.
In just three semesters, Purcell graduated with a 3.85 GPA with an associate’s degree in General Studies. She was most-recently recognized as a United Soccer Coaches 1st Team Academic All-American, and will continue her academic and athletic career at SUNY Purchase with a major of Art Management.
The prolific striker shined under the brightest lights that Herkimer has to offer — whether on the soccer pitch at Wehrum Stadium or helping out at her alma-mater’s theatre program to complete the Herkimer Honors Program.
Despite not having a theatre program at Herkimer, Purcell used the requirements in the Honors Program to give back to her old Drama Club, and explore new opportunities in theatre which will help her at her four-year school, SUNY Purchase.
“In the honors program, you’re required to do three projects with different objectives, and two-of-my-three projects were theatre-based,” Purcell explained.
“I went back to Sauquoit High School and helped the drama club direct their latest production, and that was really cool because I was able to give ideas instead of acting them out. Last semester, I went to Broadway Utica and saw how they managed things at the theater, which was awesome because that’s what I’ll be doing at SUNY Purchase.”
Coming out of high school, Purcell was a dedicated student, and didn’t know how she’d be able to perform at her best in the classroom and on the soccer field. She explained that her teachers went above-and-beyond to help her juggle both soccer and schoolwork.
“One of the biggest unknowns for me coming here was how I was going to complete missed classwork during games. Sometimes I had games during a class, and my teachers made sure to print out copies of notes that we did while I was playing soccer. The staff is very accommodating to athletes, and makes the life of a student-athlete so much easier.”
Herkimer freshman midfielder Kayla Suppa initially had resentful feelings towards Purcell during high school. But in just four months, the two had formed a special bond.
Off the field Kristen is one of my best friends," Suppa said.
"Growing up we both played club (soccer) at the same facility, and we didn’t like each other at all. Coming into Herkimer, I was nervous how it would play out between us. Little did I know that she would be someone who I not only looked up to, but someone who I loved to be around. There’s never a dull moment with her and I know I’ll miss seeing her every day and getting to hang out with her. I can’t wait to watch her succeed at Purchase, but I know I’m really going to miss her here at Herkimer."
Kristen Purcell used everything Herkimer had to offer, and is moving onto bigger things as she inches closer to her dream. SUNY Purchase is about to meet a fearless, passionate young lady who is a proud graduate of Herkimer Community College.
By Sean Lynch
Sean is a freshman at Herkimer College, and an award-winning sports writer for his coverage of high school sports in Section 9. He is also the team manager for the Herkimer Men’s Basketball team, and can be seen taking pictures at Generals sporting events. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanLynch845 for quirky sports takes, and information regarding the Herkimer Men’s Basketball team.