Roosevelt alum Kayla Fischer ready for final football season at Ohio State
As Kayla Fischer prepared to graduate from Ohio State, she thought long and hard about her future.
Fischer, a Kent Roosevelt alum who earned All-Big Ten honors the past two seasons for the Buckeyes women’s soccer team, has been working to find the best fit academically.
Athletically, there was no doubt what she wanted to do.
“I mean I was young once,” Fischer said. “So I didn’t want to stop playing.”
There were also few questions about where Fischer wanted to play, but she needed to make sure her graduate school plans could come to fruition in Columbus. In the end, Fischer entered Ohio State’s nurse practitioner program, so her decision to wear scarlet and gray for one final season was pretty easy.
“I couldn’t get used to the idea of telling the coaching staff that I was going somewhere else,” Fischer said. “Like I really enjoyed working with the coaches and everything. So really if I had gone somewhere else, yeah, I could have played, but it’s really just Ohio State that I like to play for football.”
Fischer also doesn’t plan to go through his final season in Columbus.
Asked about her goals for the 2022 campaign, Fischer usually started with team goals, and big team goals at that: winning the Big Ten and making the NCAA Final Four.
Fischer added that she hopes to score 10 goals this season. (She set her previous record of six last year.)
“I just keep my goals high,” Fischer explained. “Because you can’t reach them unless you place them high.”
Talent, character stand out for Kayla Fischer
Buckeyes coach Lori Walker-Hock had no trouble providing a scouting report on Fischer, who has been among OSU’s top scorers since arriving on campus.
Number one, according to Walker-Hock, is Fischer’s devastating speed, something that was always apparent when Fischer played Roosevelt, whether on the court or on the basketball court.
“Number two is just his willingness to go one-on-one against players,” Walker-Hock said. “She’s just a fierce competitor and she’s willing to put her body in situations that a lot of players her age probably aren’t ready for.”
This is the fascinating part of Fischer.
She combines a fierce competitive spirit with a gentle spirit off the court.
“He’s just a wonderful human being,” Walker-Hock said. “She cares a lot about the people around her and she would do anything for her teammates and the coaching staff, and then she’s just the kind of person who always starts with, ‘How are you?’ He’s still a genuine person.”
As Walker-Hock said, it’s no surprise that Fischer would become a nurse practitioner, given her personality.
And yet, as easygoing as he is off the field, Fischer plays football like a bull let loose outside the ring.
“As you get to know Kayla, her beauty is the contrast on the court,” Walker-Hock said. “She’s just a fierce competitor and she wants to win and she’ll do just about anything to help her team win.”
Kayla Fischer starts strong, continues to progress
It didn’t take long for Fischer to find success in Columbus.
Indeed, she scored her first college goal in her third game.
And that goal turned out to be the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Florida.
Six days later, the then-freshman scored another goal against Morehead State, then accounted for both goals for the Buckeyes in a 2-1 win over Purdue later in the season.
Fischer ended up taking Big Ten freshman honors, but the hard work was just beginning.
“My freshman year I would say I had more than one move and it was just go dribble along the sideline, either shoot it or cross it,” Fischer said. “So we had to adapt a bit to that.”
“It’s the biggest transition for a young player with her God-given talent for speed is that there’s a lot of opportunity as a club player just to blow up defenses and I think that’s It’s a disservice when it’s the only tool you really have in your toolbox,” Walker-Hock added. “As you go to the next level, you need to have additional things other than speed because you’re going to come up against defenders who are just as fast.”
Over the years, Fischer added new moves and maintained a steady level of production, following his four-goal freshman campaign with five goals apiece in sophomore and junior and six in senior.
As defenses harass her, Fischer has also become more of an enabler, going from just one assist as a freshman to seven last year.
“She also has great partners,” Walker-Hock said. “You put anything in and around the goal and [Kailyn Dudkovich] going to strike, then Emma Sears, who plays on the opposite flank, just had a blistering pace and the two. Kayla and Emma have created a beautiful partnership.”
Kayla Fischer starts the 2022 campaign with an open mind
Fischer enters his final season with the goal of making big improvements and achieving big goals.
She also enters the 2022 campaign grateful for the chance to do something very few college players can do — play a fifth year — after she and her teammates endured something very few college players have ever had to. – having a football season pushed back until spring due to COVID-19.
“It’s kind of like a bonus year,” Fischer said. “[It’s] kinda like I can go there with no worries and I’m not even supposed to be here this year and just play. And if all goes well, maybe I’ll play again, but if not, give it my all because it’s my last year [at Ohio State]so it could be done.”
The pause in Fischer’s voice, wondering if 2022 will be his last season, is because, according to Walker-Hock, Fischer will get his chance to play professional football.
“She could play professionally, if that’s something she wants to do, and so [we’re] trying to develop her game so that the door can be opened for her if she chooses to walk through it and explore those opportunities,” Walker-Hock said.[In order to go pro]she’s definitely going to have to develop additional moves and be creative about how she can break through defenses and individually beat players as athletic as her.”
As the summer progresses, Fischer will surely be working hard on those moves as she targets her best season yet for the Buckeyes.
And beyond this season?
Even for a self-proclaimed “great planner” like Fischer, that will have to wait.
“I’m pretty open to the idea [of playing professionally] and just see how this year goes,” Fischer said. “I could be completely done playing after and hitting all these goals and being really satisfied and wanting to keep going to school, but if not, I definitely have thought about it, so I’d just quit school for a while. You can only play once.”
Kayla Fischer Career Stats
2018-2019: 4 B, A
2019-2020: 5G, 5A
2020-2021: 5G, 4A
2021-2022: 6G, 7A
Career totals: 20 G, 17 A