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Pursuing a dream

Walker overcomes two serious knee injuries en route to pro soccer career
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Cat Walker feels like she’s living a dream. The 24-year-old San Diego State and St. Francis High School graduate flew to Finland on Sunday to embark on her career as a professional soccer player, the dream job she’s thought about having since she was a youngster growing up in Folsom. “Oh my God, I think it’s amazing,” Walker said of her signing to play professionally with Club PK-35, a team based out of Vantaa, Finland, a suburb of Helsinki. “I keep waiting for someone to pinch me. This has all happened so fast. I’ve had lots of ups and downs and this is like a dream come true. As a high school player, playing professionally was always in the back of my mind.” If anyone deserves to be rewarded for hard work, dedication, perseverance and overcoming adversity, it’s Walker. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in 2007 and three years later, tore the same ligament in her right knee. Though she had her doubts through two reconstructive knee surgeries, she always kept her dream in sight. “The first time I was really scared because I had never been hurt before, but I was young and I had no doubt that I would play again,” Walker said. “I did wonder how I would come back and how good I would be, though. When I hurt my right knee, that one was a lot more difficult. I knew I needed surgery and knew I would have to go through rehab, but I didn’t know if I wanted to come back for a sixth year at San Diego State and play soccer. Luckily, they offered me a sixth year and I decided to come back.” Walker was named captain of the San Diego State team prior to her sophomore year in 2007. When she completed her final season last fall, she ended a career that included being a three-time first-team All-Mountain West Conference player, as well as the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2009, not to mention serving five years as a team captain. Upon graduating in December, Walker e-mailed every former teammate, coach and soccer contact she had and she eventually would up with an e-mail address of Pauliina Miettinen, coach of the PK-35 team. “Pauliina played and coached soccer in America so she was familiar with our style of play and we started talking,” Walker said. “I sent her a video and two weeks later I signed.” Walker’s parents, Price and Bonnie, have lived in Folsom for 25 years and are thrilled at the opportunity their daughter has before her. “We’re very proud and excited for her,” Price said. “This is something she’s wanted to do most of her life. It says a lot about her to go through the two knee injuries and to persevere through all the rehab, but she hung in there. She learned a lot of life lessons and I hope this is a reward for her. I think learning a new culture and living in a new place will be more difficult for her than the soccer. She’s hoping playing over there will lead to even bigger and better things.” Walker is equally thrilled at the chance to play professional in Finland. “I never thought I’d do it; never thought I’d end up here,” Walker said. “It shows me that hard work gets you places where you want to be.”