The following article appeared in the October 26, 2011 edition of the Honolulu Star Advertiser
Delivering for Brown
Allison Kagawa has become a mainstay for the Bears soccer team in a place she never imagined she'd be
by Billy Hull
Allison Kagawa never expected to be so far away from home. If it wasn't at the University of Hawaii, Kagawa figured she'd play soccer at one of the smaller schools in the Pacific Northwest, places like Puget Sound or Whitworth.
It wasn't until her father, Keith, encouraged her to take a stab at applying for an Ivy League school that Brown University entered the picture.
Four years later, the 2008 Mililani graduate is preparing to play her 65th consecutive match for the Bears when Brown faces Penn on Saturday in its regular-season home finale.
Kagawa has started every match for Brown, racking up more than 5,500 minutes on the soccer field for a team that she never expected to play for.
"My dad really encouraged me to apply to the school in the first place and from there I started emailing the coach about tournaments I'd be playing in," Kagawa said. "It all kind of worked out in the end."
Kagawa has been a constant in the Bears' lineup for four years, peaking as a junior when she was named to the All-Ivy League first team.
Brown finished seventh in the eight-team conference last season, but has bounced back this year to contend for the league championship.
The Bears are currently tied for third and play second-place Penn on Saturday in Kagawa's final home match.
"The buildup to it ... I can't really explain it," she said. "I'm definitely excited, but also a little bit nervous."
After some early jitters her freshman season, Kagawa said it got easier adjusting to the East Coast once classes started.
The weather wasn't nearly as much of a problem as the 6-hour time difference between Rhode Island and Hawaii.
The chemical biology major comes home twice a year for Christmas and summer break, and hopes to plan a permanent move back to the islands in the near future.
"Short-term, I might try to stay up here for grad school or some kind of work experience, but long-term I'll definitely come back home," Kagawa said.
Kagawa's senior season got off to a special start when the team traveled to Europe to play matches in Switzerland and Italy.
Outside of a short trip to Canada, Kagawa said it was her first experience leaving the country.
"We got to play some matches against international teams and it was a real good cultural experience," Kagawa said. "We visited a couple of coastal towns that reminded me of home because we were able to see the ocean."
Although it's unlikely first-place Harvard will lose both of its final two matches and open the door for Brown to claim the conference, it has still been a good year for Kagawa, whose team can finish the highest it has in her four years.
The Bears finished fourth her freshman season and have had a losing conference record for the last two years.
"It seems like it's been up and down every year ... but this has definitely been one of the better seasons since I've been here," she said.
Primarily used in the backfield, Kagawa has managed two assists this year, matching her total over the previous three seasons. She has yet to score a goal in a match, taking 28 shots with 13 on goal.
Browns ends the regular season Nov. 5 on the road at Yale.
Pictured: Allison Kagawa '12. Photo by DSPics.net.