Jade Klump knew it was coming but couldn’t help herself. She laughed and smiled. It was quite the sight. Sitting across the field, at practice, Visitation soccer coach Dick Westbrook sat on a bench quiet as a church mouse, dressed as the Easter Rabbit. “He does it every year,” the 5-foot-10 Klump says. “It was so funny.”
The Vivettes went on an impromptu Easter egg hunt with Westbrook miming instructions. You know, because the Easter Bunny doesn’t talk. “He was pointing what to do,” Klump says.
The Viz soccer team has been enjoying itself on the field this spring. The Vivettes are a stout 3-2 against their ultra-competitive schedule. Their only losses are to large school Nerinx Hall and in overtime against Cor Jesu. Not too shabby considering there are many who doubt exactly what this team has left after back-to-back Class 2 championships and losing a healthy chunk of its starters to graduation. “I’m tired of hearing we’re young,” Westbrook said after their OT loss to Cor Jesu. “We’re soccer players.”
Count Klump, 17, and the rest of the Vivettes on board with that sentiment. They’ve heard the talk about who’s gone and how this will be a rebuilding year—that this team is due to take a step back after all its success. Phooey, says Klump. “That ticks us off,” the junior striker says. “We still have an amazing team and amazing talent. We need to prove who we are. Let’s three-peat, that’s our motto this year.”
There are 15 girls back who had varsity experience last season and a pair of freshmen who came to watch the Vivettes march to the title last spring. The cupboard is anything but bare at Viz. And it starts up top with the dynamic Klump.
A University of Kentucky recruit, Klump has been making opposing defenders quiver in their soccer socks since she arrived on the pitch as a freshman. Tall and lean, she has sprinter speed. And that’s not hyperbole. As a middle school student she was nicknamed ‘White Lightning’ by her club track teammates and competitors. She ran the open 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes. She still holds a youth sprinting record for the Midwest Region. She raced at the Junior Olympics four times. If track and soccer weren’t in the same season she’d still be doing both sports instead of focusing on futbol.
But speed isn’t everything. You have to be able to finish the chances your fleet feet create. And Klump buries goals the way a dogs bury bones. She has six goals this season after tallying 24 as a sophomore and another 10 as a freshman. If she’s not the most feared striker in the area, she’s in the conversation.
As intimidating as her skills and work ethic make her, Klump’s appearance is anything but frightful. She always wears her hair in a pair of pony tails when she takes the field. She’s been doing it since she was just a tot. Now it’s become part of her routine. A routine she dare not break. “People ask me about that all the time, it’s superstition,” she says. “I’ve never played a real game without the two ponies. I’m pretty superstitious.”
She also is pretty confident this group of Vivettes can give anyone a game at any time. The schedule Viz plays every year is nothing short of brutal. Westbrook always has believed that if you want to be the best, you have to play against the best. That’s why they’ll play Nerinx, Cor Jesu, Incarnate Word, Ursuline, St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Dominic this season. Those are, traditionally, among the best teams in the state. Klump says the Vivettes have to make sure they’re ready for those games but not overlook anyone on the schedule. “We have to make those games count,” she says.