Christina Klaum has always been a natural leader
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Coach Shannon McEntee was being bombarded with calls from scouts. Having caught a glimpse of Christina Klaum, they were eager to learn more about the South Side soccer star and, perhaps, begin the college courtship.
"I had to tell them she's only a freshman," McEntee said. "And they were all like, 'Seriously?' "
As the team bus pulled into Denton Avenue Park and the Cyclones readied for a showdown in the Nassau final, Klaum stepped forward, before even the captains spoke, and delivered an impassioned speech to her team.
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She was only a sophomore then. Seriously.
"Even as an underclassman, I felt it was my job to step up and try to be a leader," said Klaum, now a Providence-bound senior. She was named team captain, officially, last year. "I thought any little bit could help; something to inspire the team going into that game."
The Cyclones won that match and went on to capture a state Class A championship. They did it again in 2012, going undefeated and bringing home the program's 17th state title and seventh in nine years.
Along the way, Klaum etched her name into South Side lore -- the leadership, combined with showstopping skills, even drawing comparisons to former Cyclones great Crystal Dunn.
"But Christina doesn't let it get to her head and she's not the kind of person who will ever settle," McEntee said. "She has goals and she won't stop until she achieves them."
The forward easily controlled games last year, befuddled opponents and regularly maneuvered through defenses as if able to pause the action around her. By season's end, it surprised few that Klaum was named Long Island Player of the Year. And this past June, she won a national championship with her Albertson Fury club team.
All that, and a mantel crowded with awards, and she was only a junior. Seriously.
But all that, Klaum said, only raises the bar for her and the Cyclones, who begin this season ranked 11th nationally.
"I want to make sure we excel and be even better," said Klaum, who played year-round and has improved her moves and footwork. "In anything, you're supposed to progress with time, so we should be better than before."