Two months into her stint with Santos Futebol Clube in Santos, Brazil, Kristy Krohn is nothing but smiles.
A passionate soccer player who earned All-Big West Conference honors during her Matador career, Krohn has spent the past two months assimilating into life as an American playing the beautiful game on its native soil. And while the language barrier has provided some hurdles, the former Matador all-time scoring leader is not letting the moment pass her by.
Like many soccer players, Krohn credits Brazilian phenomenon Pelé for inspiring her career. The only player in history to earn three World Cup winning-squads, Pelé totaled over 1,200 goals during his career, most of which was spent with Santos. Most notably, Pelé helped lead the club to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.
So when the chance presented itself for Krohn to play professional soccer in Pele's home country and for his club team, the opportunity proved too good to pass up. With just her Brazilian boyfriend at her side, Krohn made the 6,100-mile journey into a new culture and new language. Fortunately for her, the transition has been made easier by willing teammates and the advents of technology.
"The biggest difficulty has been the language barrier, but a lot of the girls want to learn English and have been helpful," Krohn said in an e-mail. "Google translate has also been a huge help because none of our coaches speak English either."
In her time at CSUN, Krohn was one of the most accomplished players in school history. She held the all-time scoring record until last season and ranks among the league's career leaders in goals, assists and points. In fact, Krohn is the last Matador to record a hat trick and she is tied for the single-season school record after scoring nine goals in the 2006 season.
That offensive role has changed little in her move south of the Equator, where she is playing the "lateral" position, one she equates to outside midfielder in the United States. And based on her club's prominence, she'll be able to take in a lot of the country.
"We are currently in the process of playing in two different "tournaments". We are playing in Paulista Cup, which kind of like conference for all of the teams in the Sao Paulo state," she added. "Also, since the team finished first in Paulista and won Libertadores last year, we qualified to play in Copa do Brasil. For Copa do Brasil, we play teams from all over the country. We have a long way to go with both of those competitions, but we are currently doing well."
Northridge head coach Keith West thinks Krohn is great example of the perseverance and determination.
"Kristy was never the biggest player, but she was always one of the hungriest. She had a way of always getting into the action and scored many important goals for this program," West said. "Her experiences in Brazil exemplify soccer's international appeal and how if you work hard enough, anything is possible."
As she prepares for the summer to start in the Southern Hemisphere, Krohn is excited to where the ball bounces next. Just don't think she's too overwhelmed to stop and notice all that comes with playing in a foreign country where soccer is the most revered activity.
"Overall, it has been a wonderful experience and I am beyond blessed for this opportunity. I am doing my best not to waste it and to take in every moment and memory."