Kortman’s four-year soccer career comes to an end

Sam Ekstrom-Staff Writer

Saturday’s season finale will mark the end of an era in Dordt College women’s soccer.

Senior Katie Kortman – in her fourth year as the starting goalkeeper – will put on her gloves and strap on her protective headgear one last time as she plays her final game as a Defender.

“It will be emotional,” said Kortman. “It will be the end of a long soccer career.”

The Grandville, Mich., native started playing soccer in preschool. In fourth grade, she moved to goalie, which quickly became her permanent home on the soccer field.

“I like having the challenge of being the last defense,” said Kortman, “and I love the athletic aspect of it – of diving – and the feeling once you make the save.”

“I love the games where you feel like you did so much to help the team get that victory.”

Kortman visited Dordt on a whim during her senior year of high school. Despite the fact that Dordt’s representatives forgot to pick her up at the airport, Kortman quickly fell in love with the school and her potential soccer teammates. Soon after, she made the decision to attend.

But she definitely didn’t expect to be the starting goaltender as a freshman.

“I was really excited,” said Kortman. “I didn’t know until pretty much that game that I’d for sure be starting.”

Coach Dave Schenk’s decision to start Kortman paid off. In her first season, Kortman finished with the second-best save percentage in the conference. She recorded 13 wins and seven shutouts, including a memorable double-overtime win against Dakota Wesleyan.

“I actually thought the game was later in the day,” said Kortman. “I was at lunch and ran into Kurt Franje, and he was like, ‘Why are you here? You should be in the locker room.’”

Turns out Kortman didn’t need much preparation. She held the Tigers scoreless for over 100 minutes of play before the Defenders won the game in the closing seconds.

“I just played a really good game. It made me feel like I really did belong playing collegiate soccer,” Kortman said.

Freshman year was only the beginning. Now 21 years old, Kortman has developed a reputation for making spectacular saves in goal.

“Katie is a very good shot-stopper,” said Schenk. “She puts herself in excellent position to make saves and is also very courageous.”

Her teammates have been impressed by Kortman’s goalkeeping as well, including senior teammate Katie Heynen.

“She has crazy fast reflexes, and she plays very smart and confident,” said Heynen.

Goalkeeping can be a polarizing position. When shots find their way in the back in the net, the biggest challenge is often refocusing mentally.

This is not an issue Kortman has struggled with, even as the team finds itself going through a second consecutive losing season.

“I just know that if I get out of it, the rest of the team is going to get out of it,” said Kortman. “I yell a lot of encouragement, so when I stop yelling, that makes a difference.”

“She is unquestionably a very coachable person,” said Schenk. “Her character comes out in her consistency. The things that she does well, she does all the time.”

One of those consistent traits has nothing to do with soccer. Kortman thoroughly enjoys singing – any place at any time.

“She loves to turn everything into a song, and it has been like that since day one,” said Schenk.

“You never know what she’s going to say, do or sing next,” said Heynen.

Kortman will finish her collegiate career with over 300 saves and is set to break the school’s single-season saves record.

It’s been quite a four-year ride for Kortman, who plans on pursuing education.

“I’ve loved playing Dordt College soccer,” said Kortman. “I’m really blessed to play with the teammates that I have, and I’m thankful for it.”

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