Kayleigh Sedlacek has high standards for herself, and she knows how good of a soccer player she is.
That’s why the Jackson senior goalkeeper has had a tendency in the past to come down hard on herself for any mistakes she makes on the pitch.
“I’d love for everything to be clean and perfect, or close to perfect,” she said. “It gets into my head if I don’t do something right. I know I can be a good player, so if I make a mistake, it’s hard to not think about it or not think about what I could’ve done better.”
“Goalies are attached to every score (their team allows) on a deep level. It’s kind of a masochist position,” Timberwolves coach Sarah Smart said. “I hope that she’ll let things roll off her back more, but that’s tough to do for a perfectionist.”
Sedlacek is learning how to mentally push past mistakes, though. The best way for her to do so is to tell herself that she’s going to face more important challenges in the future, and she has to be prepared for them.
“I’m working on it, but it’s still hard,” she said. “I know that a small mistake that I make is not going to change the game, but I have to push forward for my team. It’s a personal thing, in my own head, and I need to move on. My teammates help me and tell me it’s OK if it wasn’t anything big. I just tell myself I can do it right the next time on a bigger play.”
Sedlacek is hoping to make plenty of big plays this season and help lead Jackson back to the Class 4A state tournament.
“If I could let in no goals this season, that’d be great,” she said with a laugh. “I just want to let in as few goals as possible and be the voice of the team and step up and be the leader.”
Last season the Timberwolves surrendered just 16 goals in 20 games.
“She’s technically gifted, versatile, quick, has great hands and is aggressive,” Smart said. “She’s 5-foot-11 and really strong. She’s got great size and athleticism. She can punt the ball 60 yards, so we use her as part of our offense. She’s a top-of-the-line goalkeeper.”
In addition, Sedlacek has faced just about every situation a goalkeeper can be presented with. She’s been a member of the Redmond-based Crossfire Premier Soccer Club for the past eight years, and during that time she’s played in six state championship games, winning four.
Because of those experiences, Sedlacek is confident she can make big plays in pressure situations.
“Goalkeeper is a high-stress position. I watched her (club) team play in the state cup this year, and I saw the same old Kayleigh — confident and composed,” Smart said. “She’s been in penalty-kick scenarios and high-stress situations. She can save more penalty kicks than she lets in, which is huge. She’s dauntless. I’ve got 100 percent confidence in her, and that’s never wavered.”
Sedlacek has given a verbal commitment to continue her soccer career at Minnesota State University Moorhead, an NCAA Division-II school.
She’s interested in studying communications, with the intention of eventually becoming a sports broadcaster.
“I love sports,” she said. “I keep up with sports all the time — any sport. I love to know what’s going on, and I follow all of the stars on different teams. I’ve always been interested in all of the different sports and what they bring (to fans) in different ways, and I love talking about it.”