Kelsie Harden signs with University of Arkansas Rich Mountain soccer

May 15—Kelsie Harden is crossing state lines for her next journey.

The McAlester senior signed her letter of intent Monday to join the soccer team at the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain in Mena, Arkansas, after her high school graduation on Saturday.

"I'm very excited and happy to start this next chapter of my life and taking my soccer career to the next level," Harden said.

Harden said she chose Rich Mountain because it felt like home.

"When I went and toured it, everyone was very welcoming and it felt like a home and where God was leading me," she said.

Harden has been kicking a soccer ball since she was four years old, and her love for the game has never wavered.

"My favorite part about the sport is forgetting everything going on in the world and playing the thing I love to do the most — also getting on the field, playing and celebrating with my teammates," she said.

Reflecting on her favorite soccer memories from high school include one that is in the history books for the McAlester girls soccer program.

"Making it to the playoffs for the first time in program history. It was such an exciting and surreal moment," she said, adding, "However, this year, my favorite memories were the team dinners we had."

When she's not on the field, Harden plans on studying biology and set herself on the path to become a registered nurse. She then plans on transferring to a four year university to earn her nurse practitioner certification.

Harden has many goals set for herself as she starts this new chapter, including maintaining her 4.0 GPA, starting on her new soccer team, and not being afraid to try new things — but her biggest goal is "to make my parents and family proud of me."

She also gave credit to her parents for being her biggest supporters.

"They have always been by my side in whatever decision I make, provided me guidance, and shaped me into the person I am today. I will forever be thankful for them," she said.

When asked what advice she'd give to younger athletes, she emphasized "keep moving forward."

"I have learned many things over my high-school years and these are the biggest things that I have learned. There were many days that I wanted to give up in practice," she said. "I quickly learned that not everyday is going to be a perfect day and it felt like it was never going to end. However, 'it's not a bad life, it's not a bad day.'"