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Duke Freshman Bloomed in Unlikely Place

December 4, 2011 09:00 PM
A few years ago, Kelly Cobb, a freshman forward on the Duke women's soccer team, decided to go for a run in Chugiak, Alaska, her hometown. Her street was slicked with snow and ice, so she strapped ice grips over her shoes. She kept her eyes on the ground to avoid slipping and did not notice the black bear in the road until it was about 20 feet away. They stared at each other for a few seconds until the animal wandered off. Cobb ran home.

This weekend, Cobb took the field with her Duke teammates to compete for the National Championship. How did she arrive on Duke's campus?

Cobb started playing soccer at age 7. She comes from athletic stock. Her parents, Gardner and Kathy, moved to Alaska to take advantage of the state's outdoor sporting opportunities, like camping and ice fishing. Gardner played football at Cincinnati and his brother Glen was a team captain at Ohio State. As Kelly rose through the local club soccer scene, she started playing with boys' teams and in the Olympic Development Program, which exposed her to better competition. Church noticed her at a summer tournament in Florida before her junior year of high school. There was buzz among the coaches about an unexpectedly good team from Alaska, which lies far afield of traditional soccer hotbeds like Florida, Texas and California.




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