'It's hard to process': Burlington Central grad Kollhoff reacts to Big Ten cancellation

  • Burlington Central graduate Zoey Kollhoff celebrates with teammates after defeating Lemont in the Class 2A state third-place game in 2017. Kollhoff is now a freshman at Illinois.

      Burlington Central graduate Zoey Kollhoff celebrates with teammates after defeating Lemont in the Class 2A state third-place game in 2017. Kollhoff is now a freshman at Illinois. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Burlington Central graduate Zoey Kollhoff and Marian Central's Addison Fortin pursue the ball during a sectional soccer game in 2017.

    Burlington Central graduate Zoey Kollhoff and Marian Central's Addison Fortin pursue the ball during a sectional soccer game in 2017. Daily Herald File photo

 
 
Updated 8/15/2020 9:11 PM

To Zoey Kollhoff it was a double whammy.

That's how the Burlington Central graduate, now a freshman women's soccer player at Illinois, felt Tuesday when the Big Ten announced the cancellation of all fall sports due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's hard to process," said Kollhoff from her dorm room in Champaign, where she has been since July 6.

"I lost my high school season (to the pandemic) and now this season. I was just telling my parents it feels like a double whammy."

Heading into her senior season of high school soccer Kollhoff, a forward, needed just 25 goals to reach 100 for her career. She helped the Rockets place third in the Class 2A state tournament in 2017.

Kollhoff said she wasn't anticipating fall sports being canceled by the Big Ten.

"We didn't know it was coming and I wasn't thinking about it," she said. "I'm still numb. I don't know how to describe the feeling. Sad, angry, frustrated ... and there are so many what ifs. (Tuesday) was definitely a hard day."

Fortunately for Kollhoff and the Illini, they are being allowed to practice, with the hopes of playing a spring season. Illinois was 9-8-1 in 2019 under 19th-year head coach Janet Rayfield.

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"We get to practice," Kollhoff said. "We have a lot of processes to go through but we can practice 20 hours per week. I've been here since July doing strength and conditioning with the team and we've put in a lot of work already."

Kollhoff also said she's been impressed with everyone and everything at Illinois in her six weeks on campus.

"Our coaches have done a great job and the administration at Illinois is second to none," said Kollhoff, an advertising major with a minor in photography and graphic design.

"I feel very safe here and I'm really confident in Illinois."

Despite not being able to compete for the Illini this fall, the St. Charles resident is doing everything she can to keep an upbeat mindset.

"There's always someone who has it harder than you," she said. "I'm just trying to stay positive and we're all keeping our fingers crossed for a spring season."

Other suburban players on the Illinois roster include senior goalkeeper Sami Sample of St. Charles North, senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Cablk of Naperville North, senior midfielder Haley Singer of Neuqua Valley, sophomore defender Kendra Pasquale of St. Francis, junior midfielder Katelynn Buescher of Naperville North, senior midfielder Maggie Hillman of Naperville Central, and sophomore forward Ashley Prell of Barrington.

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