Steamboat soccer star’s college career comes to a close |

Steamboat soccer star’s college career comes to a close

Luke Graham

University of Nevada Las Vegas soccer player Kelly Labor plays in a game against Ohio State on Sept. 9 at Johann Field. Labor, a 2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, ended her college soccer career Oct. 31.

— Kelly Labor jokes that her house is finally clean, she's finally caught up on sleep and her homework is finally all done.

But Labor, a 2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, admits that the most different thing for her now that her soccer career is done is trying to plan her own day.

For the better part of her life, soccer has been her life.

Labor was a force in high school, a star her freshman year at Regis and just wrapped up her career at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The Rebels lost, 2-0, to New Mexico on Halloween, ending their season and Labor's collegiate playing career. Although it wasn't the finish to her senior season she wanted, Labor did pick up her first goal with UNLV during the season. It just happened to be a game winner against the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

"You just reflect," Labor said. "Every year I've ever known has been soccer. All of a sudden you're sitting here and saying, 'Now what?'"

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Although her playing career might be done, Labor talks about the future with the same passion she does the past.

She has no regrets about her career. She has no regrets at all.

Out of high school, Labor signed her letter of intent to play for Regis. There, she was the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year and made first team all-conference.

But it wasn't enough. She always wanted to play Division I soccer, so she left the comfy situation and went to UNLV.

Although she wasn't a star for the Rebels, she said when she looks back, it's a decision she's glad she made.

"Absolutely zero regret with it," she said. "I was worried when I left Regis. But I would have regretted it more if I was not pursuing my dream. When I was a kid, it was Division I soccer. I'm so happy that I got here. I've met some of the greatest people in the world."

If Labor needed any extra motivation about her decision, she got it from former high school friend and teammate Ann Barney.

Barney, who died in a car crash, told Labor something she'll always remember.

"She told me her regret was not playing college soccer," Labor said. "I took her number, No. 9, and wore an arm band with her name on it with the words 'no regrets.' I played for her. I played for those who could no longer play. That gave me the motivation."

Although Labor's career has ended, she said she's excited for the next stage of her life. She'll graduate in May with a psychology degree and plans to go to graduate school in the fall to study child and adolescent counseling.

Of course, her education plans also include soccer. Labor is looking for a school where she can be a graduate coach on the soccer field.

She said soccer has given her so much, she wants to start returning the favor.

"I think she'll be a fantastic coach," said Steamboat Springs High School coach Rob Bohlmann, who has seen Labor coach at many of his camps. "She's an absolute student of the game. … It's just a natural ability. If that's the direction she goes, and it looks like that is, I think she'll have a lot of success."

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