Florida Soccer defender Christen Westphal left her hometown of Brecksville, Ohio knowing she was about to make one of the best decisions of her life – becoming a Florida Gator. The moment she visited the University of Florida she knew she was meant to be a part of Gator Nation.
“After talking with Becky (Burleigh) and walking around the campus, I knew I really liked the program and the coaches. Basically, it was the atmosphere and a gut feeling,” said Westphal. “I just knew that I was meant to be here.”
Westphal now a sophomore, said the desire to compete on the field was instilled not long after birth. In fact, sports have always played a prominent role in the Westphal family. Her father David, played basketball and baseball at Washington and Jefferson College and her mother Kathy was a professional competitive dancer for 18 years.
Westphal said she knew she was destined to follow her parent’s footsteps, and even though her father lives in Ohio, he never misses a single game.
“Last year at the SEC tournament my dad surprised me by making the 15 hour trip to Orange Beach, Alabama arriving just before our first match,” said Westphal. “It was such a special moment for me, definitely a moment that I will never forget.”
Westphal’s successful freshman season in 2012 included winning an SEC Tournament, appearing in every match at center back, leading Florida’s field players by averaging 87.2 minutes per match, being named to the All-SEC Freshman Team, Soccer All-Freshman second team, and a member of the SEC First- Year Academic Honor Roll.
Living with “no fear, no regrets” Westphal said she never doubted her passion and determination to excel and succeed both on and off the field.
For her sophomore season, Westphal is driven to continue grinding on the field and accomplishing her dreams.
“My goal for this season is to just continue to get better and work on things that I’ve struggled on this past year, said Westphal.
With two more years of collegiate play, she has plenty of time to keep making her mark. For now, Westphal is working on a Biology degree, and hopeful to one day play professional soccer or attend medical school to become a pharmacist.
Westphal and the Gators pack their bags and head to Orange Beach, Alabama for another SEC Tournament Nov. 4-10 and Westphal has high hopes of bringing home another SEC Title.