Steamboat Springs Two years into her experience at the Division I collegiate soccer level, 2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate Kelly Labor is about as excited as she can get for her senior year.
With her junior campaign ending this month, Labor said she finally is adjusting to playing at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
"Every year I've tried to get better," said Labor, who started 11 of 21 games this year. "I see glimpses of it every year. Getting a taste gives me huge motivation to work my absolute hardest next year. I want to be a solid starter."
Judging from Labor's past, her senior year no doubt will be successful.
She played her freshman year of soccer at Regis University, earning Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.
But she wanted to play Division I soccer all her life. So instead of staying in the comfort of Regis, she decided to transfer.
Her sophomore year, she was plagued with a lingering quadriceps injury. And this season, coaches changed her position from a forward to an outside midfielder.
The injury and the change made things hard on Labor.
She admits that at times she was frustrated - but at no point did she regret her decision.
"This is the highest level I can play at," Labor said. "This year, I showed I can play at that level. Last year, I was still tentative. This year I really proved to myself I can play."
Labor finished the season with one assist in helping the Running Rebels to an 11-7-3 record. UNLV advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament before falling to Brigham Young University, 4-0.
But now, as Labor looks at her senior year and the potential of playing her last season of competitive soccer, she said she feels she's ready for a breakout year.
"It's all or nothing," Labor said. "It's sad but we have a really good class of girls. We're all soccer-minded and have the same goals in life. It's nice sharing that with seven other girls and making sure we're not regretting anything."
Labor will be expected to lead a team that just went through somewhat of a rebuilding process. With a deep schedule next year and the desire to get back to the MWC championship game, Labor's expected to be a big part the UNLV season.
"You know I think one of the best things about Kelly is she knows the game," UNLV assistant coach Jen Klein said. "She's a very bright soccer player. When she's on the field she influences the players around her. : I think we can expect good leadership. She's got a great work ethic that's contagious. I think she's going to bring great leadership by example."
Labor's senior season begins in August 2009.