Flying usually finds people listening to music, reading magazines and getting to know the person next to them, but for sophomore midfielder Kelly Wepking, the airtime is reserved for studying.
This unusual act left junior midfielder and teammate Kaitlin Wagner asking Wepking if she even said a word to Wagner during the flight.
“She said to me, ‘what, did you get two papers and a lab report done?’ because she couldn’t remember if I had even said anything to her,” Wepking said.
Wepking, nicknamed IT by her teammates because she initially enrolled as an honors student in the Institute of Technology, has learned the trick of balancing athletics and sports by making the most out of her time.
“I don’t know when the kid sleeps,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said. “I don’t know when she gets all her studying done.”
Wepking makes time by beginning her day at 7 a.m. to read for class before soccer practice.
Instead of returning home from class she opts for the library to get a head start on homework.
“Time management is a big thing for me,” Wepking said.
She says she receives ribbing from teammates all the time because it seems all she does is study.
“People always say ‘where’s Kelly? Oh she’s probably studying,’ and I’ll actually be doing something different,” Wepking said.
Always a good student, Wepking participated in the academic decathlon and quiz bowl in high school. She graduated second in her class.
Her book smarts easily translate onto the field where she’s expected to be an important piece to the success of the team this season.
“She’s going to be a huge element of our success this fall,” Denney Wright said. “She’s going to be one of the best midfielders in the Big Ten. She’s phenomenal.”
Wepking has worked hard to improve her game on the field, especially after tearing her meniscus nine games into the season last year. It was the first time she had to watch from the bench after years of tearing up the opposition.
She came to Minnesota after being named the 2005 Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin. Major soccer schools like the University of Connecticut pursued her because of her status as one of the country’s soccer elites.
Ultimately Wepking decided on Minnesota to remain closer to her family and for its pre-medical program.
While on campus Wepking made the Dean’s List both semesters.
“Last semester I got my first A minus ever and it was in chemistry,” she said. “I thought I knew the material really well but it was a multiple choice test with options through ‘I.’ “
Unmarred by the grade, Wepking said she wants to become a dermatologist after medical school because the hours seem more conducive to a family setting.
Dermatology isn’t all she studies, however.
Studying the game also takes up some space in her schedule, often spending time with the coaches going over film and learning how to better herself. With all the time she spends learning about the nuances of soccer, it looks as if coaching appears as a viable option after her career ends.
“I’ll probably start coaching when I’m older, but as of right now I’m looking at medicine,” she said.
Although that part of her life isn’t entirely clear, what remains apparent is her drive to succeed in whatever she undertakes.
“We call her,” Wagner said, “the perfectionist.”