Courtesy of University Marketing
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - As both a student and an athlete at Northern Arizona University, Kristi Andreassen has excelled. As a physical therapy major, she has achieved a cumulative 4.0 GPA, and was recently honored as an Academic All-American by ESPN the Magazine. A center back for the women’s soccer team, she helped lead her squad to a conference championship and NCAA National Tournament appearance for the first time in school history. Now, as she prepares for graduate school in physical therapy, Kristi is committed to helping her future patients achieve their own successes.
Kristi Andreassen was part of the recruiting class that helped change the course of women’s soccer history at Northern Arizona University. Before her arrival, the NAU women’s soccer team had never made a national tournament or captured a Big Sky conference championship. Now, as she prepares to graduate, she can look back fondly on being a part of two NCAA national tournament teams and the 2008 Big Sky championship squad. Kristi, however, was no ordinary cog in the wheel: a center back, she was captain of the 2009-10 team that fell to top-ranked Stanford in the national tourney, and was also named a first-team Academic All-American by ESPN the Magazine. As a high school star from Tempe, Kristi was drawn to Flagstaff for reasons both visionary and pragmatic.
“Growing up, I always thought I was going to go to Arizona State University, but I ultimately decided on NAU because I really liked the coach, the team, and the goals the coach had set for the team,” Kristi says. “And academically, I knew I eventually wanted to become a physical therapist, and they had a great undergraduate program that prepared you really well for PT school.”
According to Kristi, coach Andre Luciano’s vision of turning NAU into a women’s soccer power resonated strongly with her. The opportunity to be a part of building something great, she says, has been highly rewarding.
“In the past, (top soccer recruits) haven’t thought about going to NAU as a number one choice, so (Coach Luciano) wanted to create a winning team – and a winning tradition,” she says. “He wanted to make it to the NCAA national tournament every year. I loved being a part of it, in that our class was his first recruiting class, and was supposed to be a part of the turning point: we actually managed to do that, so it’s been a great experience.”
When she came to Flagstaff, Kristi brought two qualities – commitment and communication – that proved to be key in helping to create a winning culture. When everyone on the team shares these qualities, she says, great things can happen.
“Personnel plays a huge part of success – everyone has to have the same goal,” she says. “Starting with my class, and with every recruiting class since, we have all been committed: if you’re not committed, you’re not going to be successful. I also try to be constantly communicating, and constantly supporting my teammates in any way possible. If you don’t know what’s going on around you, the chances of making a mistake are a lot higher, so I try to communicate a lot to help everyone around me.”
Kristi also has a strong desire to help in another arena – as a physical therapist. Her desire to become a therapist came after she suffered injuries as a high school player, and was helped back to health by a physical therapist. As an exercise science student, she has excelled, earning a cumulative 4.0 GPA. And, she says, the experience has been a remarkable one.
“Honestly, every professor I’ve had here has been great,” says Kristi. “I feel like we have so many great professors here, and that people (outside of NAU) don’t really know that. People who don’t come here don’t know how good our professors are.”
Now, as Kristi applies to doctorate in physical therapy programs – the NAU DPT program is first on her list – she volunteers at a local physical therapy clinic to help prepare her for what’s to come. Whatever comes next, however, Kristi says she has no regrets about her decision to come to Flagstaff.
“I love the campus, and the fact that you can get across campus in 25 minutes,” she says. “Classrooms are smaller here, and I’ve enjoyed my classes, my professors, and definitely the soccer. Now I’m looking forward to going to PT school, and helping people get back to living the way they want to live life.”