Inside the world of redshirt first-year goalkeeper Mikki Easter

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Mikki Easter dives for a ball Aug. 14, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Living on a farm might just seem like a life of growing crops and training animals, but for some athletes it can be utilized as a personal gym.  

Redshirt first-year goalkeeper Mikki Easter grew up in Culpeper, Virginia, where the surrounding area is mostly farmland. The farm is exactly where Easter said she spends a lot of her time — although she does not live on one herself, she has connections close by. 

“My best friend actually has a farm,” Easter said. “So, I’ve worked there a couple of summers. They’ve been like a second family to me since I was in kindergarten, so I love hanging out with them.”

Along with working on her best friend’s farm, Easter found that the workload and equipment around the property could make for a great workout when she does not have the time to get to the gym or the field.

“One summer I worked to prune tomatoes for a store, so that was a workout every day,” Easter said. “But I have done workouts using farm equipment like hay bales and big tires.”

From going on runs around the property to soak up the views to fishing in the ponds, Easter said there are many things to keep her busy on the farm. 

Coming all the way from the East Coast would be an adjustment for anyone, but coming from a rural area to the city of Milwaukee was even more of a change for Easter.

“At home, the closest grocery store is 10 to 15 minutes away, and you can’t walk anywhere. You have to get in a car and drive,” Easter said. “So that was it. That was an adjustment.”

While this was a lifestyle change for her, Easter said having family from a city had already gotten her used to life in an urban area.

“My whole family is from Pittsburgh, so I was used to a city, so just actually moving was different,” Easter said. 

Since most of her teammates come from either towns in Wisconsin or urban areas, senior Kylie Sprecher said the team sometimes likes to joke around with Easter while they are all together. 

“She’s from Virginia, but she’s from like middle of nowhere Virginia. We call it the boonies Culpeper,” Sprecher said. “But we joke with her and she lives on a farm, and her background on her phone is a picture of her cows. Also, I think when you meet her you can kind of hear a little bit in her accent, but she’s very much from the woodlands of Virginia.” 

Even her roommate from last year, sophomore midfielder/defender Josie Kelderman, poked fun at Easter’s rural background.

“Definitely off the bat, I could tell she had a weird background with farms and stuff,” Kelderman said. “She makes a lot of jokes about cows, because apparently she’s around them a lot, which I think is pretty funny for some reason.”

Easter has put her geological background and accent to good use, as teammates say she has one of the best voices on the team.

“She’s a very, very good singer. Very good,” Sprecher said. “I know she entered the athletic talent show last year, but it was virtual because it’s right after all the COVID-19 stuff happened. So, they had posted her video, but she’s very into music. And a very good singer.”

The athletic talent show is a first-year talent show that the soccer program puts on every year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the show was virtual, but it went on nonetheless, and Easter was able to blow her team away with her singing and piano skills. Although we do not know the results from the talent show, just from the comments by Sprecher and Lena, it seems like Easter impressed.

Easter said that she has always sang in her church choir at home, and she even decided to quit her high school’s band to join her high school’s choir program during her junior year. 

Along with entertaining her teammates with her vocal skills, Easter’s teammates said that she is one of the funniest and most genuine people they have ever met. 

“She’s very energetic, very caring, she loves to have fun, she always is making people laugh,” Sprecher said. “Whenever I’m around her she just kills me. The stuff that she says is so funny.” 

One of the reasons that Sprecher loves to be around the young goalie is because she makes everyone around her feel engaged in whatever activity they are doing as a team.

“She’s always down for whatever people want to do. She’s just very go with the flow, very chill, but in a way, she’s just very genuine,” Sprecher said. “Even though I’m two years older than her, I hung out with her so much her freshman year just because she makes you feel good. She knows how to have fun and lightens the mood.”

Along with Sprecher, senior midfielder/forward Maggie Lena has also taken a liking to the redshirt first-year even though she has only been with her for one season. 

“I would say the biggest thing is she knows how to put a smile on everyone’s face,” Lena said. “I think she’s really good at flipping that switch of being on the field, really driven, smart and holding people accountable, but then off the field knowing how to let loose and have fun and always dance in the middle of the gathering.”

The passion that Easter has for playing soccer and her ability to unite everyone together is one reason why Lena thinks she is developing into a fantastic leader for years to come in the program. 

“She’s just really passionate about what she does, 100%. Whether it’s soccer, school, you know, being a leader, being a friend, being a teammate,” Lena said. “Yes, she might be on the younger end right now …  (but she’s) feeling more confident with every practice and continuing to be that leader younger players can look up to both on and off the field.”

This story was written by Kristin Parisi. She can be reached at kristin.parisi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @kristinparisimu.