Soccer has been a passion and a refuge for Kelley Francis ’25.
Soccer has been a passion and a refuge for Kelley Francis ’25.
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5 from 2025 title

5 from 2025

The college application process is fraught with anxiety. Do you take the SAT and ACT? How many campus visits can a family manage? And then there is the often-dreaded admissions essay. What life experiences will grab the attention of admissions officers and help you nab a select spot in the incoming class? The following five new Bucknellians found their answers within themselves. Here are the essays by members of the Class of 2025 that Bucknell’s admissions staff found irresistible. — Sherri Kimmel
photographs by Dustin Fenstermacher

The Time-less Beauty of Soccer

by Kelley Francis ’25

“I’m just the ball boy and the birdhouse fixer,” my dad says as he sits down to repair the birdhouse that lies on the kitchen table in two pieces.

“Why do you bother to fix it? You know she’s just going to break it again,” my mom says.

When I’m not playing soccer at an organized practice or game, I still manage to find time to play more soccer, but things get broken in the process. When I was juggling a ball in the living room, I lost my footing, and the ball smacked into the middle of a framed 1,000-piece family jigsaw puzzle. I scurried away with the evidence, hoping no one would notice the missing pieces. My parents didn’t need to see the missing pieces; they had heard the ball bounce off the wall seconds earlier. Another time, after attempting to “nutmeg” a red metal chair in the basement, I snapped off a chair leg. Now it’s taped together with red duct tape. Yet another time, I chipped two wooden fence panels in the backyard after my shot went wide, deflected off a window, and fired back at the fence. Once, I even took down an entire 6-foot tree branch with a shot that blasted over the net. That evidence I could not hide so easily.

My family members don’t need to go looking for me. They can follow the thump, thump, thump coming from my room, the basement, the backyard or the living room. My parents tell me they love to hear the lightness of my intricate footwork contrasted with the sound of the pounding soccer ball rumbling throughout the house. My brother does not always feel the same way. On breezy nights, I will kick a soccer ball against the wall over and over and over again until the sun sets, and it’s time for bed.

Soccer is my therapy. When I am playing soccer, I forget all of my worries and stress as I engross myself in the game I love. Time does not exist when I am playing soccer. There are no tests to study for, no texts to respond to and no worrying about looking “cool” or fitting in. There is just my soccer ball and me. Sometimes I recruit my dad to help with drills. My dad, who grew up playing football, basketball and lacrosse, is still getting his soccer legs, but his accuracy has improved tremendously.

My backyard is a safe space. The opposing forces of serenity and energy are in perfect harmony while I shoot the ball between two powerful trees that replicate the goalposts of a 12-by-6-foot soccer net. I create “defenders” out of tree roots and hit the birdhouses hanging above, accidentally, of course. When winter arrives with its snowy, dark nights, I head to the basement, where I run drills in circles around the pingpong table and dribble through drink coasters, cornhole bags and pingpong paddles.

The 18 birdhouses hanging in the aspen trees in the backyard have been glued, repainted, taped or nailed back together, but my dad never throws them away. Every birdhouse was a Father’s Day gift from me to my dad. While soccer makes me lose track of time, love, family and birdhouses fuel and support my passion for soccer.

Kelley Francis ’25 is an undeclared major in the College of Arts & Sciences from Aspen, Colo., and member of the women’s soccer team.