By Ray Hamill — Arcata senior Karina Zumbrun is taking her game to the next level, signing a letter of intent on Thursday to play soccer at the University of Redlands in SoCal next year.
The dominating midfielder becomes the second Humboldt-Del Norte League player to sign on to play at the collegiate level since the end of the season, joining Eureka midfielder Olivia Stone, who will play at Portland State.
Zumbrun, who received an academic scholarship for Redlands, admitted it was a tough choice with several schools interested, but ultimately chose the Division-III Bulldogs because of the engineering program at the school.
“It was just kind of how it felt,” the Arcata senior said. “The biggest deciding factor was my major, and the other biggest deciding factor was the team.”
Zumbrun made two visits to the campus and says she went back and forth considering Redlands and Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals, Chapman University, before ultimately choosing the Bulldogs after feeling very much at home with the team and program.
The 4.23 GPA standout plans on attending the school for three years, before transferring to a special program at Columbia and pursuing her masters.
On Thursday, at the Arcata school library, Zumbrun signed the letter of intent in front of family, coaches and her Arcata teammates, whom she admits she will miss in the next chapter of her life.
“I think being in a big city is going to be a big change for me,” Zumbrun said. “Living in this area, I love outdoor activities, and I’m going to miss that, and I’m going to miss my family and friends.”
Among those activities, Zumbrun is also an avid surfer and kiteboarder, each of which she intends on pursuing in Southern California, as well as a strong swimmer and a member of both the Humboldt Swim Club and the Arcata High team.
In addition, she serves as a lifeguard at the local pool.
The Arcata standout got into soccer at the age of four, but admits she wasn’t too enthusiastic at first.
“My first practice, I didn’t want to go,” she said with a smile. “But my mom made me.”
By the end of that first practice, she says she had fallen in love with the sport, and in her own words, she’s “been playing ever since.”
She’s also traveled a lot to play, first honing her game with local travel teams like Mad River United and Samoa AC, before eventually joining forces with the Santa Rosa United Alliance and the Santa Rosa Elite Club National League program where she traveled all across the country to play in tournaments.
“This is why you went through all the hard work,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan told Zumbrun in front of the gathering on Thursday, adding that “she was a workhorse in midfield for us all season,” and a “major part of the team leadership.”
She was that and more, scoring 38 goals in 23 games, including a remarkable nine hat tricks, and added 13 assists, on the way to helping the Tigers reach the North Coast Section championship game.
Playing alongside fellow senior Nina Crossen in the heart of midfield, the pairing was pivotal to the team’s success this past season.
Stranhan added that it was particularly gratifying for him and his fellow coaches to see a player like Zumbrun move on.
“This is why we coach,” he said. “We coach to advance athletes in skills and life, and the love of the game. And Karina loves the game.”
The head coach also described Zumbrun as a player who was always looking to get better.
“Here’s what I learned this season. Karina questions everything,” he said. “She’s always looking to improve things.
“And that’s going to carry you a long ways.”
The Bulldogs were 9-7-2 in 2018.