Senior defender Alli Klug faced a tough choice. Continue down the PT program or chase the soccer dream?
After the end of the season for the women’s soccer team at SLU, in which Klug played an ever-important part, she was left wondering what her future held. Having helped SLU to the first round of the NCAA championship where they unfortunately experienced a defeat at the hands of Notre Dame, the stalwart defender went in for a self-explorative conversation with head coach Katie Shields, where she laid down her plans to enter the NWSL draft.
“I didn’t really discuss this with my parents. They’ve always been super supportive of me. I can always just enter it and if things don’t work out, it’s not that big of a deal.”
As a student in the Physical Therapy program at Saint Louis, Klug hopes to decide sooner rather than later what the next phase of her life looks like. She notes the different avenues facing her, and the likely consequences that each could bring about.
“If I do get drafted, it would be difficult balancing school and having to leave early because you typically leave at the end of February/middle of March for preseason. I talked to the PT program before break, and they just expressed their support for anything I was going to do, which was really reassuring.”
Unfortunately, the call did not come for Klug on Thursday, Jan. 16 from the convention for the NWSL draft being held in Baltimore. Although Klug was somewhat looking forward to leaving SLU early, the disappointment wasn’t immeasurable. It certainly wasn’t the end of the world.
“It’s not completely done, but I definitely have to take a step back and look at what my other options are, and just being back here for the first [couple] weeks, I’ve realized that my number one priority is to graduate in the spring,” reflects Klug.
“I’m in a lot of hours, and even though I was very excited before this semester to potentially leave early, I’m not sure if I’m at that point yet.”
Indeed, the PT program here at SLU is one of the most rigorous academic curriculums to take on as a student. Not only does it require taking a lot of hours throughout the 6-year journey that eventually results in a doctorate in physical therapy, there’s also a good 38 weeks of full-time clinical experiences necessary—and those begin senior year.
Klug, though, is not one to shy away from challenges. You don’t just become a two time All-American defender. Hell, there’s still a chance she will pop up on TV one day.
“I could still go to a tryout/pre-season for a team if I am invited, or I could pursue something abroad. It would probably mean having to take a break for one year from the PT program. And after a year, I would re-evaluate whether I’ll be coming back or continuing with soccer.
“It would probably take more than a year to [establish] a professional career in soccer, so it would only be if I hated it that I would come back [to continue with PT].”
And should that option become non-viable, Klug notes that foregoing all career interest with soccer and continuing with the PT program is a great alternative.
Regardless, it is a tremendous achievement to have been able to balance the academic side of things, especially one as rigorous as physical therapy, with playing soccer at a college level, and still earn as many accolades as she has. Oftentimes it is forgotten that student athletes are still students and have to take on the same challenges as any other student, while at the same time being expected to perform on the field.
Klug says that this particular tightrope she faces now, the two avenues between forging out a professional soccer career and completing the PT program, are “hard and scary”. Making the wrong decision in this instance could prove very costly, and is a significant worry of hers. But with the immense support of her parents, coaches, the PT department, and many others, it is safe to say that whatever Klug decides next, she will have plenty of goodwill to back her abilities.