In 2016, then-freshman Kate Del Fava helped Illinois State University win the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. Now as the Missouri Valley Conference goal leader, the senior is ready to dominate on and off the field.
The senior recalls her favorite soccer memory, which occurred in the NCAA Tournament game against Michigan in 2016.
“We made it to the NCAA tournament,” she said. “I was a freshman and I got to take a penalty kick … I can still remember how I felt when I took that penalty kick, and then we went on to the second round, and that’s the furthest that our team had ever been.”
Although a force of nature on the field now, there were humble beginnings when Del Fava started playing soccer at the age of five.
“I was just one of those kids who played all the sports growing up” Del Fava said, “I think as I got a little bit older I started realizing that this is the sport that I love the most and that I really wanted to pursue.”
Having reflected on the team’s 7-4 record so far and MVC leading +17 goal differential, the senior is confident when forecasting season objectives.
“I think we want to break some more records,” Del Fava said. “So we made it to the second round our freshman year, our goal is the third round this year and even further past that. So, I’d say just starting with the Missouri Valley Conference Championship, we want to win that.”
Del Fava has improved immensely since being on that championship team. She has increased her scoring every season, but never at the current volume. Del Fava has more goals this season (13 games in) than her previous three years combined.
This path of progression had its rough spots, as a torn labrum hindered the MVC scoring leader last season.
“I had surgery in February on my left hip,” she said. “So I go to treatment every day for that … I have Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) in both hips, which is basically where my pelvic bone and my hip socket don’t fit together properly, and that caused my labrum to tear in October last year during a game. I tried to just play through it, but labrums don’t heal on their own.”
This senior highlights the dedication it takes to be a great student athlete. She maintains a 4.0 GPA while double majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal science and minoring in chemistry.
“It’s definitely a lot of work,” Del Fava said. “But I think it’s all worth it; I love soccer and I love what I’m studying. It’s hard and it’s a lot of work but it’s rewarding work … our coaches and our athletic staff make it really easy for us and put in a lot of effort to make our schedules work.”
Del Fava chose to double major for several reasons.
“I’ve always wanted to major in something with animal science,” she said. “Then I saw ISU had the pre-vet major and so I was like ‘that’s perfect!’ I wasn’t 100% set on veterinary school at the time when I had to decide a major. So, I was like ‘I might as well just add the animal science in, because then it gives me a wider spectrum to go with after I graduate.’”
Her passion for animals drives her to succeed in this field.
“I’ve just always loved animals my whole life,” she said. “I really enjoyed science and medicine growing up; I knew I didn’t want to be a person doctor and I loved animals so much and I was like ‘I think this is the perfect fit for me.’”