Next Level Seniors: Kienan Wilkinson Fulfills His Dream of Collegiate Soccer


Lukas Werner

“I’m really really excited to go to the University [of San Diego] next year and it’s a really cool opportunity, especially with the soccer side of things,” he said.

Maddie Burns, Assistant Editor

Collegiate soccer has always been the end goal for senior Kienan Wilkinson. His passion for the sport began when he stepped onto the field at the age of four years which is why he is excited to see what his future holds now that he has committed to the University of San Diego. He is now a part of a select group of seniors who have committed to play sports at the collegiate level, and are thus showcased in The Falconer’s Next Level Seniors series. 

Wilkinson has been playing soccer for the majority of his life, but it wasn’t until sophomore year that he decided to commit more of his time to the sport. It was during this time that he was lucky enough to join the Timbers Academy. He said he has had a great experience with the academy, one of his favorite parts being the competition.

“Everyone on the field is just as good as you, even on your best days,” he said. Additionally, he and his teammates have to focus while playing the game, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a sense of family and community as well. “They’re your best friends and brothers off the field,” Wilkinson said.

Despite this support system, high school was a lot for Wilkinson to manage alongside his soccer career. Joining the Timbers Academy meant that he would have to follow certain rules that made him ineligible to play on La Salle’s varsity soccer team. Although at times Wilkinson wished he could have been a part of the La Salle team, he realized that in the interest of his athletic career,  “the thing that’s helped me the most was not playing for [La Salle] sophomore year,” he said. “Just learning that sometimes you have to do your own thing.” 

Wilkinson also had to sacrifice the classic high school experience of dances, football games, and hanging out with friends due to practices and games. “It’s been really tough,” he said. But to Wilkinson, the thrill he gets from playing soccer cancels out what he has missed out on.

If there are two things Wilkinson learned during his time at La Salle, it’s okay to make mistakes, and you shouldn’t be scared to ask for help. “There’s no harm in asking for help, especially [from] teachers,” Wilkinson said. “Everyone’s here because they want you to succeed.”

From professional players like Marcus Rashford to his coaches and teammates, Wilkinson finds inspiration everywhere. One person in particular who he might consider to be his biggest inspiration is his dad, who played professional soccer for the Portland Timbers. “My dad inspired me as well just because of what he did with the sport and where it took him,” Wilkinson said.  

Wilkinson’s original inspiration to entertain the idea of playing college soccer came when he heard his teammates talk about their future plans with the sport, which made him realize that it was something he should look into. He and his parents agreed that he shouldn’t sacrifice his education by going straight into professional soccer, so they mutually decided that playing soccer in college would be a better fit for him.

For Wilkinson, the college recruiting process was “super overwhelming,” he said. At one time, he had only been invited to play for one college, but by the end of the process, he had received over 10 offers. After evaluating his options, he eventually landed on the University of San Diego.

“At the end of the day, the coaches are super committed to me as a player and a person and I really value that,” Wilkinson said. 

Not only is Wilkinson looking forward to continuing his soccer career, but he’s excited to move to a new city and environment where he can be more independent. Wilkinson is also looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead for him, like working for a spot on the team’s starting lineup and getting the opportunity to play in national tournaments.

As Wilkinson begins this new chapter of his life, he said he is feeling bittersweet. He said that he has made many great memories with teachers and friends and that he has ruly enjoyed his time at La Salle. “I’m thankful for my family, coaches, teammates, and La Salle,” Wilkinson said. “They’ve been extremely helpful…so I really have some opportunities to chase my dream.”