Favorite athlete:Travis Slear (my brother who plays on the Alvernia Men’s Soccer Team)
Favorite team: Chelsea FC
Favorite memory competing in sports: My favorite memory is from my high school varsity team’s game against Upper Dublin last season. Our goalie got a red card (which was later rescinded), so our team had to play one man down in addition to subbing in a backup goalie. The game was really intense with both teams getting really aggressive. Additionally, there was an entire student section in the stands, and it was a home game; the energy was crazy. We held Upper Dublin off, and the game went into overtime. We wound up losing in the end, but it was still the wildest game of soccer I’ve ever played.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: I stepped up to play goalie for my club soccer team in a Spring league game because our keeper couldn’t make it, and I got six goals scored on me in one half. Needless to say, I did not play goalie in the second half.
Music on your playlist: Anything by Taylor Swift. I also love Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, and A Boogie wit da hoodie. My favorite song is “This Bar” by Morgan Wallen.
Future plans: I hope to attend the University of Pennsylvania and major in Neuroscience.
Words to live by: “Mind over matter” (my head coach always says that)
One goal before turning 30: I want to travel to Italy.
One thing people don’t know about me: I am obsessed with the new Top Gun movie, and I’ve seen it four times in theaters because I keep forcing my friends to watch it.
By Mary Jane Souder
Katie Slear tries – and usually succeeds - to find the positive in every situation.
It's impossible to miss the smile in the Upper Moreland senior's voice when she describes her style as a captain of the girls’ soccer team.
“I do not like to be critical – we have another captain who is the stricter one,” she said. “My biggest thing is motivating. A positive mindset is everything even when you’re playing a game.
“Obviously, sometimes things get physical, sometimes people start talking on the field. If you get caught up in things like that, your play will sink down. You’re not going to play well because you’re thinking about other things, so I think the biggest, most important thing is making sure people keep a good mindset. I don’t like to be critical, which might be considered a shortcoming, but your mindset completely dictates how you play.”
That might sound a bit idealistic but listening to coach Lisa Benvenuto tell it – Slear somehow manages to keep every situation in perspective.
“She has the most positive outlook on everything,” the Golden Bears’ soccer coach said. “She understands when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to, and she can put a spin on that, and she can work through it and stay positive. She’s been able to do that and bring that out in our team.
“If you come out to our field, she might be the only girl you hear She’s definitely vocal, but she’s constructive. She understands how to get the best out of people.”
If it sounds like the type of leader every team needs, Benvenuto would agree.
“This year we are kind of rebuilding a bit,” the Golden Bears’ coach said. “(Last week) we lost a tough one to Wissahickon, 3-2,” the UM coach said. “We had the lead, we were playing great. It’s the best game we’ve played.
“At the end of the game, the girls were upset – they didn’t win, and they’re right, but they’ve got to be proud of what they did. There’s Katie making eye contact, she’s smiling and she’s nodding her head. That soccer maturity, that maturity overall, the IQ – she’s such a well-balanced student-athlete.”
Student-athlete is the operative word for Slear, and it’s remarkable she actually finds time to play soccer with a schedule packed with activities.
An outstanding student, Slear is president of the National Honor Society and has an ambitious schedule that includes four AP classes and, for good measure, a college English class. She is the overall chair for UM’s Mini-THON and – as a member of the drama club – regularly finds herself with lead roles in the school’s fall and spring dramas. She has a part-time job but is limited to weekends during soccer season, and she enjoys running.
“Honestly, I love being busy,” she said. “That’s why I love running. I’m always in competition with myself, I’m always trying to get better. When I’m busy, I think it’s when I’m most productive. I just make sure when I have free time, I use it wisely.”
A passion for soccer
Slear came by her love of soccer honestly.
“My dad played soccer when he was a kid,” she said. “I have two brothers, so my brothers and I all played soccer basically since we could walk.
“We were in intramural soccer, and all the way through elementary school, middle school and high school, it was my top sport always. I didn’t really play other sports except for lacrosse in middle school. I tried that out, did not like it, so I only stuck with soccer.”
Walking away from soccer was never a consideration for Slear, who competed in travel until sophomore year when her team disbanded.
“Part of my favorite thing is that I would get to see my friends every time I went to soccer practice,” she said. “I think that’s what kept me into it when I was younger.
“When I got older - I just love running. I run on my own time. I think that’s what’s so specific about soccer – it’s all about your foot skills. I think it’s such a simple sport. That’s part of the reason why I wasn’t crazy about lacrosse. There were some rules I didn’t understand as much, and I feel soccer is so simple. You either train and practice or you don’t.”
Slear competed in track in middle school for two years, focusing on long distances.
“I didn’t stick with it in high school partly because I didn’t have a whole lot of time,” she said. “I’m involved in a lot but also – it gets kind of boring sometimes running, and I didn’t like the pressure of having to run in a competition without the addition of a team, the skills and all of that.”
After playing jayvee soccer as a freshman in high school, Slear was moved to the varsity her sophomore year.
“She started in the field in the back and then we moved her up to a holding center midfielder,” Benvenuto said. “She basically anchors the middle of our field.
“She’s the one who is matching up with the other team’s most dangerous attackers, and she does it with poise, she does it with composure. She’s one of the only girls who plays almost the whole 80 minutes every game. As a midfielder, she has stamina, endurance and strength. You have to have all those things, and she has one of the most positive outlooks on everything.”
Slear admits that it would be hard to walk away from soccer and hopes to continue at either the club or intramural level next year.
“A lot of the colleges I’m looking at are going to be high level sports-wise, and I don’t want to have to pick a college based on where I can get on the soccer team,” she said. “I’m definitely going to play in college but not on an official college team.”
The University of Pennsylvania is at the top of her college list which also includes Penn State and other state schools. She is planning to major in neuroscience.
Much more than just soccer
Soccer is just one small piece of Slear’s busy life. Participating in Upper Moreland’s spring and fall dramas also occupies a great deal of her time.
“I’ve been doing plays since I was in sixth grade,” she said. “Part of the reason why I did that was because I started getting leads and stuff and because I like singing. I just kind of stuck with it.
“My schedule gets very busy, especially in the fall. I’ll go to school at 7:30 a.m. and right after school from 3-5:30 I have soccer practice. Then I have play practices from 5:30 to 9 three days a week. In the fall, it gets very stressful, but in the spring, there’s another production, so that’s my focus in the spring.”
Slear’s first role was Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and she was hooked.
“Getting the lead role in that was massive,” she said.
Ask Slear her favorite role, and topping the list was playing Donna in the popular musical Mama Mia.
“It was so fun,” she said. “I loved the movie so much, and I love Abba, so performing in that was great. The audience reactions were so good because everyone knows that show so well.”
The casting for the fall production was just completed, and Slear once again finds herself in a leading role, playing Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. She’s already looking forward to UM’s spring production of A Chorus Line.
For now, soccer is front and center in Slear’s life. The Golden Bears are in the middle of a difficult stretch: playing each team in the larger school SOL Liberty Division. UM has held its own and extended defending SOL Liberty Division champion Wissahickon to the limit before falling 3-2 and is coming off a win over Upper Dublin.
“Playing these bigger schools, we don’t go into a lot of games very optimistically just because things are kind of stacked against us,” Slear said. “The day before our Wissahickon game – we had a whole lot of fun, and I love the girls this year. They’re all some of my best friends.
“I think that’s what’s so important is that we show up to practice, show up to games and we have fun. We had such a fun practice before Wissahickon, and our coach said, ‘This is how it should be. You shouldn’t be going into these games just worrying about losing.’ We started playing this sport for a reason.”
This year’s team, according to Slear, spends time together outside of practice.
“That’s what makes it different,” she said. “People keep going because we actually have fun together and playing together.
“After our Wissahickon game – it was weird because leaving most games with a loss, I would not be doing too great, but we weren’t down on ourselves or anything like that because we knew we put in everything we could. The biggest thing is knowing you put in the best you could. That’s what we talk about in huddles before every game, we make sure we’re putting our best foot forward and starting out the game the best we can.”
While Slear is getting the most out of her high school experience, she also is looking forward to the future.
“I am so ready to move on to college because I feel like I did so much,” the UM senior said. “Now I’m ready to see what I can do in college.”