A handful of movies have been filmed in the state of Utah. One Disney movie in particular, “High School Musical” was filmed at East High School — the same school that University of Utah soccer player Janie Kearl attended. Although she wasn’t there when the movie was filmed, she enjoyed roaming the halls and seeing the famous pink locker and the lunchroom that was used for a musical scene. She was thrilled that a touch of Hollywood had been in her high school, but she was more pumped to know the college she wanted to enroll in was right up the road. As an athlete at Utah, she would be the one to be in the spotlight, not for a movie, but on a soccer field.
“I went to a [Utah] game because I grew up in the area and I remember looking at the girls, and that was when I realized I wanted to play on the [Ute Soccer] field,” Kearl said. “[Utah] was where I wanted to be so as I went through the recruiting process, I looked at other places, but I knew in my heart Utah was my dream school. It has been my dream since I was five so it has just been a dream come true.”
The past four years of Kearl’s life have been irreplaceable. She will always admire the coaches and their focus they put on her and her team and the best friends she made as a Ute. Kearl has learned more about herself than she thought she would and because of that, she has grown as a person, something head coach Rich Manning wants for every one of his players.
When Manning talks about recruits with his staff and team, he wants people who are going to represent the Utes and the community well, excel in school, as well as grow as a player and for Kearl to do that every year, Manning couldn’t be more proud.
“Being someone from the neighborhood and being the hometown hero, I think Janie has really become a role model,” Manning said. “You can see that with people from the community that come and watch us play, and they know who she is. Those people have grown to love and admire her so it’s a 100 percent success story for Janie. I just hope that she remembers the little people like me. She is going to be very successful in whatever she does.”
As her final season has come to an end, Kearl looked back on her favorite memories she made as a Ute and the first thing that comes to mind was when her team made it into the Sweet 16 this past season. Starting from the bottom of the Pac-12 and working its way up, Kearl is proud of the way her team accomplished its goals.
Another memory she will always cherish comes from her senior year and her team’s trip to Washington. Although the Utes did not win the game against the Huskies, spending time with the team in the hotel rooms was something she’ll never forget.
With soccer now over, she plans to continue in her kinesiology major and she wants to one day become a strength and conditioning coach. Until then, Kearl leaves with some words of advice for any present and future Ute soccer players.
“Just take full advantage of it,” Kearl said. “Make it your first priority and really give it everything because it goes by so fast. It can be hard getting distracted by other extracurricular activities, but just put everything you have into it.”