Bio

DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Soccer's Ferry: "You have to be able to sacrifice'

Kyla Ferry’s world keeps spinning, and no matter how busy it gets, she doesn’t seem like she’s ready to stop and take a rest.

As the week before Christmas neared its end, she joined other Xavier Prep students and took her final exams, six to be exact.

But there was little time to relax. On her final day of exams, she had just enough time to grab something for lunch and get to soccer practice.

The Gators were preparing for their trip to southern California to participate in the annual Excalibur tournament in Norco, near Riverside.

The tournament begins Dec. 27 and runs through Dec. 29. Xavier is expected to play three or four games in the event.
“The tournament is good because unlike here in Arizona, teams don’t know you and you don’t know them. You can just go out and play, don’t have to worry about anything. The thing about this tournament is that all of the teams are really good,’’ said Ferry, a junior.

The trip serves as a bonding experience. Ferry recalled how important it was a year ago, when the Gators played well in the tournament and, after returning to Arizona, going all the way to the 6A Conference state championship game, where they defeated Phoenix Desert Vista for the title.

Xavier junior Kyla Ferry (Photo by Top Drawer Soccer).

“I still get goose bumps when I think about that (title),’’ she said. “I want to win another one. Since we won state, everyone wants to beat us, but we like the pressure.’’

For Xavier to win it again, the team will have to rely on Ferry, a forward/midfielder, to produce as she has in the early part of the season.

According to MaxPreps, Ferry has played in four of the team’s five games and has scored nine goals to go with four assists for 22 points. Senior forward Abby Hubbard is next with seven goals and three assists in five games.

Xavier coach Barb Chura says Ferry “might just be the best player in Arizona and is one of the best in the country.’’

Colleges already have noticed. Ferry, who also plays club ball, already has a college scholarship lined up, to the University of Colorado. She also received attention from the University of Arizona and Oklahoma.

“I have been playing a long time, for 10 years, since I was 6,’’ she said. “When I started to play soccer, I fell in love with it. It takes a long time to learn some of the things and sometimes you can get tired, but if you love it that much, you have to be able to sacrifice to reach your goal.’’

She had been contacted by a few schools and then Colorado called. She hadn’t really thought about the Buffaloes up to that point, but took a visit and discovered “that it’s really nice, everything I wanted (business and sports broadcasting). They are in the Pac-12 and that’s a tough conference.’’

There’s still almost two years before she lands in Boulder for a permanent stay, so that gives her even more time to refine her soccer skills.

It takes only a few moments of conversation with Ferry to realize that she is mature and has developed strong leadership qualities.

“Sometimes I think I need to do more than I do to get better,’’ she said. “I want to help the younger players as the older players helped me when I first came here. You want to help them gain confidence, encourage them.’’

She said she has received advice from her father, Jay Michael, a former soccer player at Brophy Prep, as well as “a lot of good coaches’’ coming up through the years.

Some of those coaches have told her that she has “a good soccer IQ, in terms of tactical things. I am out there and things sometimes move slowly and that allows me to consider what might happen. And if they don’t happen, consider what I might be able to do to make them happen.’’

Doing something like that is important, she said, “and I put a lot on myself. I love scoring goals and I love taking on that pressure.’’

Ferry has a 4.2 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. Combine that with her soccer ability and you’ve got a very good player.

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