Fresh off of her final season of soccer, Slippery Rock University’s Tess Keeley is excited about what’s to come in the future for her. Keeley, 22, comes off a season where she recorded two goals and six assists, playing in and starting all 18 games of the season. She finishes her career at SRU with 18 assists, tied for eighth in program history.
Keeley, a native of Pottsville, Australia, said she first got involved with soccer at the age of four, primarily because her older brother played.
“I liked to copy him when I was younger,” said Keeley, laughing.
While attending Kingscliff high school, located in New South Wales, Australia, Keeley was a five-sport athlete. She received multiple athletic awards, including an all-zone recognition, and several academic honors in English, science, mathematics, and geography.
Keeley said, growing up, she had always traveled with her parents. Traveling was an experience that Keeley’s parents always tried to give her and her brother. It was something that she decided several years ago that she wanted to do when she was older. During her senior year of high school, Keeley decided to do just that. She made a choice to attend college and play soccer in the United States. Although ultimately deciding on SRU, Keeley said The Rock was not “on her radar” at all. The majority of the schools in the U.S. that she was looking to study at were along coastlines, she said.
“Slippery Rock was never one that I picked out and contacted,” she said. “The coach who was here at the time saw my recruiting video and contacted me with an offer.”
Keeley said that studying in the U.S. has its differences, compared to if she would have studied in Australia. In Australia, she said, one might be able to complete a college degree in a smaller amount of time than in the U.S., depending on the major.
“The primary difference is the liberal study courses,” Keeley explained. “In Australia, if I were completing the same degree I am now, I could finish it in three years. Being a hospitality major, I wouldn’t have to take like a music course or any English classes.”
Keeley, who plans on finishing her degree next semester, will be able to walk with her classmates at graduation in the Spring. But she’ll technically not graduate until she completes an internship during the summer. With her internship, Keeley said she’s hoping to be able to work with Carnival Cruise Lines, and to be able to stay on with them for a few years.
“Short-term, I am hoping to work with carnival to gain experience,” Keeley said. “Long-term, I will end up back in Australia. I want to travel a lot and eventually go back to school for my master’s.”
Being over 9,000 miles from home, Keeley said going home isn’t something that has happened a lot over the past four years. During the winter break, she goes back home to Australia. But during the shorter break throughout the semester, Keeley lives at the Heights at Slippery Rock, an off campus apartment complex. During her freshman year, when students are required to live on campus, Keeley would travel during the breaks from school.
“I traveled a lot,” she said. “I traveled all the time when we would have breaks from school, until I moved into my apartment off campus.”
Throughout her time at SRU, Keeley said she has enjoyed being able to learn the different culture that the U.S. has. One of the differences that stood out to her, she said, is the diverse amount of food available to people when they go out to eat. It was a surprise at how cheap the food was and how large the portion sizes were, she said.
Keeley also noted the passion that the U.S. has for sports.
“That was honestly one of the biggest surprises I had,” Keeley said in amazement. “I thought people in Australia loved sports, but we only ‘like’ them compared to Americans. Americans are so much more dedicated to their sports.”