(Liv)ing for the love of sport
Larson kicks the ball to attempt to make a goal during a game against the University of Washington May 2 2019 at Harrington Field. // Photo by Zack Jimenez
By Kayla Sousa
She was named to the NCAA II Championships All-Tournament Team as a first-year player on the women’s soccer team. She was named a GNAC All-Academic athlete her second year. This year she played 1,503 minutes in 23 games and recorded 16 shots on goal. You might be wondering who she is. Her name is Liv Larson and she just wrapped up her third year on the Western women’s soccer team.
Larson has been playing as a midfielder and forward on the team since she began attending Western in fall 2016. She has been playing soccer since she was four years old but said it feels like she has been playing forever.
“Soccer has always been an escape for me,” Larson said. “I’m typically a quiet, shy person but when I’m playing soccer I feel confident and like I can speak out and take risks.”
Larson said her first coach was her mom and that her mom keeps her motivated in all parts of her life.
“She’s the hardest working woman I know and she gave up a lot of time and sleep to drive me to all my practices and games growing up,” Larson said. “I don’t know if I’d be playing soccer and getting a college education if it weren’t for her.”
Larson attended a recruitment camp for soccer players at Western during her first year of high school and was intrigued by Bellingham’s scenery and the women’s team coaching staff.
“The campus kind of sold me. Our field is surrounded by beautiful trees and how could I pass that up?” Larson said. “Playing soccer and being surrounded by the outdoors is a dream for me.”
Before joining the women’s soccer team, Larson played for a select soccer club in Everett for two years, the Rush GU18 team. She also played for Arlington High School, lettering on the varsity soccer team all four years, according to Western’s roster.
“She was determined to be a great player,” said coach Nathan Davis of Larson High School. “I knew she was going to be a college player in her first varsity game as a freshman.”
Davis said he has known Larson since her eighth grade year when she was a student in his wife’s English class. From then on, she became a student in his class and a player on his soccer team. He said he recalls Larson being the hardest worker and the most competitive player he has ever coached.
“Being on the same team as Liv was probably one of my most favorite things about high school soccer,” Abby Anderson, a friend and former high school teammate, said.
Anderson said she remembers meeting Larson seven years ago. As an eighth grader looking up to a ninth grader, Anderson said she was initially intimidated by Larson because of her skills in soccer and basketball but the two became friends the following year when she began playing with her in high school.
“She brought a fierce personality to the field, full of competition and drive,” Anderson said. “She is the type of player where you love being on her team, but hate to be playing against her because of how tough of a competitor she is.”
Anderson said she has memories that made her feel like she always had Larson by her side, like their pre-game ritual of throwing up a peace sign to each other and up to her mom in the stands. “She was definitely someone that I looked up to on and off the field,” Anderson said.
Larson recalls winning the NCAA II National Championships her first year on Western’s team as one of the most memorable soccer moments to date. She also remembers a game during the 2018 season against Concordia University as one of her favorite moments on the team.
“We were down 2-0 with four minutes left and we had this epic comeback where we scored a goal and then another goal to tie the game with three minutes left,” she said. “It felt like a movie.”
Larson reflected on the memories she has made alongside her teammates and coaches while traveling for games throughout the past few years.
“The memories you make on the bus or the plane and in the hotels — nothing can beat those moments,” Larson said. “It’s like the goofy, in-between moments when you’re not playing soccer, the down time … I think I’ll remember those moments more than actually playing.”
Larson said that besides soccer, most of her other favorite hobbies are outdoor activities like biking, camping and hiking. However, her second favorite hobby next to soccer is rollerblading.
“I didn’t get my [driver’s] license until I came to college so I just rode my rollerblades to school in high school,” she said. “I just really like it. It’s really fun.”
Davis said he can remember Larson often making the trip 2 miles to the soccer fields on her rollerblades.
“Throughout high school, she would rollerblade down to the local soccer fields just to shoot,” Davis said. “I can remember multiple days seeing her out shooting by herself in the rain.”
Anderson also said she remembered Larson’s hobby of rollerblading and that she was proud to call Larson one of her best friends and role models.
“She was the roller-blading, superstar athlete of our town,” Anderson said. “A lot of my memories of Liv come from the way that she stood out from other people and how she didn’t try to be like everyone else.”
Larson is pursuing a degree in recreation at Western and said her dream job is to eventually become a national park ranger. After graduation, she said she is planning on traveling to play soccer abroad for a few years.
“I think it would be hard to play soccer my whole life and then just stop right away,” Larson said.
Larson will begin her last season on the team in fall 2019 as she looks forward to graduating. She advises incoming and future players on the women’s team to trust the process, put themselves out there, trust the coaches and give back to the team.
“I don’t want it to end but I am excited for the fall, where I get to go to practice and see my teammates every day.” Larson said.