Once a Jackrabbit, always a Jackrabbit

On Saturday the SDSU women’s soccer team played their annual alumni game inviting former players to join current Jackrabbits in an informal tournament. 

This year, head coach Lang Wedemeyer divided the alumni and players into four teams, which played a series of round robin games before the two teams with the best records were selected to play in the championship game. 

The most senior member of the group was Alissa Bernth Kuhl who was a part of Wedemeyer’s first recruiting class in 2001. 

Another of the many notable alumni there was Erin Kasmarik who graduated in 2009 and currently coaches the Brookings boys’ high school soccer team. The Coon Rapids, Minn., native started all 21 games her senior year, earning First Team All-League honors and making ESPN’s The Magazine Academic All- American Second Team. 

Though playing the alumni series on fields much smaller than regulation the size, the players and alumni proved why they are or were collegiate soccer players. 

“I always want to win,” Caylee Costello said. “I hate losing. I think I hate losing more than I like winning. It’s always good to go home a champion.” 

Costello played for the Jackrabbits from 2010 to 2013. She was a starting midfielder for her final two years and took home First Team All-League and Academic All-League honors her senior year. 

“It’s pretty fun,” Costello said about playing in the Alumni game. “I was really surprised how much I missed it, so it’s good to kind of get out and have fun with the team.” 

Despite claiming to have fallen out of playing shape since last fall, Costello nonetheless was a force on the field as she once was in Jackrabbit uniform: scoring goals, making defensive plays and fighting for victory. 

Costello played for the championship-winning green team along with current Jackrabbits Diana Potterveld, Kristin Ford and Lindsee Larson as well as alumni Emily Quigley, Steph Peterson, Christa Nyblom and Heather Hill Odden. 

“Just seeing all the old players and kind of reconnecting with them, getting together and just having some fun,” Costello said was her favorite part of the day. 

Opposing Costello on the runner-up orange team was alumni Kayla Braffet who played for the Jacks from 2008 through 2011 and participated in SDSU’s NCAA Tournament upset of Colorado in 2008. 

“It’s nice to see the program developing and still being a part of it,” Braffet said about returning to her alma mater for the game. 

A forward, Braffet was named Summit League Offensive Player of the year her senior year and was First Team All- League. Despite being two and half years removed from her playing days, a smiling Braffet confessed to scoring several goals during Saturday’s tournament. 

“It was pretty competitive,” Braffet said of the Alumni Game. “We were all telling our team like hey, this is our one and only chance to be back in the old glory days so you better play hard.” 

19 alumni took part in the tournament, including all four of last fall’s senior class. The alumni were joined by 15 members of the current roster, including freshman Shelby Raper. 

“Being able to meet and play alongside the alumni was a nhonoring experience,” Raper said. “Knowing that some of those girls had been to the tournament and have all carried this program to where it is now is definitely something to look up to. Realizing that could be my class in a short few years from now is even crazier to think about.” 

Raper started the final 11 games for the Jacks at her forward position and made The Summit League All- Freshman Team as well as garnering Summit League academic honors. Though still early in her SDSU career, Raper said she could definitely see herself returning to take part in the tradition. 

“Not only will it be fun to see my old teammates, but the players that will be where I am at now, just beginning their journey,” Raper said.