By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Jillian Kinter recently received the ultimate sendoff in her final weeks on the Colgate University campus.
The Newburyport High alumna was named Colgate’s Athlete of the Year after a senior soccer season in which she earned Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row. Kinter, who will graduate from Colgate on May 19, was selected along with men’s lacrosse player Peter Baum among a pool of 483 student-athletes.
Kinter was nominated for the same award as a junior, but did not receive the votes to win. One athlete from each of the university’s sports teams is nominated for the award.
“Coming into Colgate as a freshman, I had no idea what to expect at all,” Kinter said. “I had no idea it would have turned out this great. I really feel I improved every year I was here.”
Kinter is also the rare college senior who has concrete plans after graduation. She has been invited to play for the Boston Breakers reserve team. The Breakers play in the National Women’s Soccer League, which is filled with former Olympians and Division 1 athletes. The Breakers boast nationally recognized players such as Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly.
“I’m hoping to get in a few games with them,” Kinter said. “That will give me an opportunity to train with the players on the Breakers roster.”
Last summer, Kinter prepared for her senior season by playing with the Aztec, a Women’s Premier Soccer League team based out of North Reading. That squad played in the national championship game in Pensacola, Fla.
“I’m hoping to do the Aztec thing again too,” Kinter said. “I’ll come home and start playing right away. I’ll be looking for a job too.”
Kinter studied sociology and education at Colgate, but has no plans to become a professor or teacher. She said she will likely pursue a career outside of her area of study.
The Salisbury native seems to rise to the top at every level of soccer she plays. As a Newburyport High athlete, she was a two-time Cape Ann League Player of the Year selection and a two-time state champion (2007, 2008). At Colgate, she emerged as the top player in the Patriot League. As a senior, she led the league in scoring with 14 goals and nine assists.
If she is able to emerge as one of the top players in the Breakers organization, she could someday play on the United States national team.
“I’m young, so I set some goals, but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Kinter said. “It’s kind of exciting this way, but really uncertain about a lot of things.”
Kinter will take finals next week after what she calls a “laid-back semester.” Then the entire Colgate senior class will head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for vacation, in accordance with a school tradition.
“I would say my experience at Colgate has been amazing,” Kinter said. “It turned out to be the best-case scenario. I’ve done well athletically and academically. I’ve been happy with my opportunities in and out of the classroom.”