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Jul, 2020

Nikki and Tori Kevdzija Off to Purdue after Stellar Youth Careers

Nikki and Tori Kevdzija are two standouts in the incredibly talented Class of 2020 for Internationals SC.  The pair lead one of the largest graduating classes in club history with players going to DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA schools all across the country.    

“It was so special coming from this talented graduating class,” Nikki said. “Every practice I knew I could count on the players around me to bring their best to practice and push me to be a better player.  I felt so lucky to be a part of this graduating class.  There is so much talent in this ISC class and I cannot wait to see all of the great things the girls moving on to the college level will do.” 

“My class at Internationals is extremely talented which only pushed me every day to play at my best,” Tori said. “I am so glad to have had such hardworking and talented teammates because we were all focused and wanted to be the best team possible, which only made the trainings that much more valuable and competitive.  Not only are they great soccer players but they are great people.  Some of my best friends are on that team and I know going forward, we will maintain a close bond beyond soccer.”

Nikki and Tori are both headed to Purdue, a top Big Ten Conference program. 

“When choosing Purdue, I knew it was the right place for me because I felt at home,” Nikki said. “When I met the coaching staff, some of the players, and walked on campus for the first time, I could picture myself there.  Also, the fact that Purdue is a highly academic university with a plethora of majors and is a Big Ten sports program also was a motivating factor.  Lastly, although Purdue is Indiana, it is a drivable distance from home.” 

“I chose Purdue because I knew I that I wanted to choose a program where I felt like I could fit into the playing style and make a difference on the field,” Tori said. “The coaching staff was very friendly and the team was also welcoming.  I also chose Purdue because I have always wanted to play Big Ten soccer.  Off of the field, I chose Purdue because it is a big school, but a small-town feel.  Also, as I pursue a degree in engineering, I knew that Purdue's engineering program is nationally ranked, and one of the best in the country.”

The college journey is luckily one that they will get to share together as twin sisters.

“It was very fun playing with Tori throughout my time at ISC,” Nikki said. “Whether it was pregame rituals, challenging each other in 1v1s at practice, or connecting plays on the field, it was very special playing with Tori.  As we go to Purdue, we hope that we bring the twin like dynamic and chemistry onto the field and make a difference when we step on Purdue campus.”

“Playing with your twin sister is definitely not common, let alone also going on to playing at the same college,” Tori said. “Most people think that we picked the college together, but we were not actually planning on picking the same college, it was just the best fit for both of us as individuals.  Playing with your twin is a unique experience.  She is your teammate, friend, and sister all rolled into one.  We also go hard at each other and are not afraid of letting each other know how we feel.  She is my biggest fan but also my fiercest competitor and vice versa.  At Purdue, I hope that we can use our chemistry to score some goals and help Purdue to a championship.”

It is easy to see that expectations are high for their freshman season. 

“Going into my first year of college on the field, I expect that the college level will be quicker, more physical, and even more competitive,’ Nikki said. “I expect that my first year will be a learning curve as I transition from being part of a club that has been a second home for half of my life to a new program with new coaches, new teammates, a new atmosphere with new experiences.  Off the field, I expect that my classes at Purdue will be challenging yet fun and insightful. I believe that my first year will be very exciting and full of new adventures.” 

“For my first year at Purdue, on the field I expect an even more competitive atmosphere, and playing against physically more mature players,” Tori said. “Also, I know that the college level will be much more physically demanding and the speed of play will be faster than club.  Off the field, living away from home for the first time, taking challenging classes, and being part ofa new program will definitely be a fun adventure.”

Both Nikki and Tori believe that Internationals SC left them extremely prepared for the college game. 

“As a player, Internationals has given me the best training and has exposed me to the best competition in order to prepare me for the collegiate level,” Nikki said. “Furthermore, the passion, discipline, and family culture that is at the core of Internationals values will resonate with me as I transition to play college soccer at Purdue.” 

“Internationals has helped me prepare for my transition into college by providing an excellent coaching staff,” Tori said. “What makes the coaching staff so great is that they all bring different strengths to the table when they coach so it is awesome being coached by a plethora of talented coaches who bring their own twist to trainings.  Also, Zdravko (Popovic), Keri (Sarver), and the entire coaching staff have consistently pushed me in trainings to perform at my best and learn ways to be most effective on the field.”

Part of that preparation was playing in the ultracompetitive ECNL.  Nikki and Tori grew into some of the most sought-after recruits in the U.S.

“Playing in the ECNL, I was lucky enough to travel to various cities across the country to play the sport I loved and experience places I might not have gotten to,” Nikki said. “I got to travel to ECNL national showcases and playoffs and was able to play against the best of the best players and teams in the country.  I got to play the sport I loved at the highest competitive level with my teammates.  ECNL created a platform where I could be exposed to college programs across the country.”

“I benefited from playing in the ECNL because from the national events alone,” Tori said. “The exposure to colleges was incredible. Also, every game in I played was competitive and against people from all over the country.”

Nikki and Tori benefitted from a talented coaching staff that made a tremendous impact on their careers.

“All the Internationals coaches one way or another were monumental in making me the player I am today,” Nikki said. “Each practice, whether I was coached by Keri, Jitka (Klimkova), Mark (Platts), Jared (Rose), Boro (Ivanovic), or Brad (Evans) made me a better soccer player.  Their critiques and style of coaching pushed my skill and knowledge of the game.  Specifically, Zdravko, who coached me the most throughout my entire time at Internationals, had a huge impact on my soccer career.  Zdravko was my biggest cheerleader yet pushed me harder than I thought I could humanly go.  Whether I struggled in early grueling workouts, missed a PK in an important game, or succeeded on the field, Zdravko was a motivational voice through the highs and the lows.  He taught me lessons on and off the field and I wouldn’t be who I am if he was not a mentor in my life.”

“Starting at the club as a U10, I have been impacted by many coaches all in different ways,” Tori said. “Early on, Boro inspired me every Monday night TTS to have his incredible feet.  Jared was always approachable and encouraging which made practices positive yet challenging.  In my high school years, Keri brought structure and specific guidelines from the highest level and shared them with the club which made me a stronger player and pushed me to focus on the details in drills or in team shape exercises.  The coach that has had a major impact on my career was Zdravko Popovic.  Starting from a young age, he believed in me and instilled confidence in myself when I first started out at the club.  I am grateful for his guidance and selflessness on and off the soccer field.  His attitude towards life and approach towards soccer inspires me to be at my best every day, and his trainings pushed my team and myself to be at our best.  As I go on to college, I will cherish the relationships with Zdravko and the other coaches.”

The success that Nikki and Tori experienced at Internationals SC has led to some lofty goals for 2020 and beyond.

“Short-term goals I have in the near future include being a difference maker on the field this upcoming season to help my team win the Big Ten Conference and finishing the academic year with good grades,” Nikki said. “Long-term goals I have include graduating Purdue in four years with honors and being named an All-Big Ten Conference player and pursuing a professional contract following Purdue soccer.” 

“My goals are to make an immediate impact at Purdue, win a Big Ten championship, and play past college at the highest level,” Tori said. “Off the field, I want to get an engineering degree and potentially pursue a degree in the medical field.”

Nikki and Tori Kevdzija are leading the way for the Class of 2020 and everyone at the club couldn’t be more proud of everything that they have accomplished.   

“Nikki and Tori joined the club at U10 eager to develop to be the best they can be on and off the soccer field,” Popovic said. “It was of utmost joy and fun having them and their family being part of the Internationals Soccer family.  I believe in their ability to have an impact at the next level knowing that the solid foundation they are taking with them from the Internationals, complimented with on-going love, passion, work ethic, and dedication to excellence will aid them to success in their future.  It is sad seeing them move on, but at the same time it is exciting knowing they have filled the shoes of generations before them and are leaving open doors for new generations of Internationals to follow their footsteps en route to excellence on and off the field.  We are looking forward to following their journey from afar, along with all of our graduating seniors.  The Internationals Soccer family will always be here for them as their home away from home.”  

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