It was during Temple’s players-only practices one week prior to the start of preseason play that Kevin Klett, a junior transfer from Valparaiso University, realized he made the right choice.
“I was able to come out here and get a chance to hang out with some of them and play with the guys before we officially started preseason,” Klett said. “They were all very welcoming of me and made me feel right at home. I wasn’t an outsider.”
Klett transferred after his sophomore campaign at Valparaiso, in which the team finished 8-5-6 overall. He totaled 107 minutes in six games for the Crusaders in 2014.
Klett admitted the Owls’ 2-14-2 record in 2014 made him a bit skeptical at first. But when he reached out to the coaching staff at Temple about transferring, he was reassured.
“It obviously wasn’t the greatest year,” Klett said. “We kind of talked about what they were going to do this year and some of the kids they had coming in as well. Just hearing what their plans were for this year was like an assurance that this year was going to be better.”
Klett has two brothers, Ryan and Jack, who live in New Jersey. He felt one advantage of playing soccer at Temple was it would give him a chance to be closer to them despite his parents, Jack and Karen, living in Indiana.
Klett also felt the quality of competition in the American Athletic Conference would be superior to the Horizon League, which Valparaiso plays in. In Klett’s two seasons at Valparaiso, the team finished with a 13-13-11 record.
“After two years I kind of didn’t feel like it was the right fit anymore,” Klett said. “I wanted the chance to play in a better conference with a better team. It would give me a chance to win a little bit.”
In his first season with the Owls, Klett has started all 15 games and helped the team to a 9-4-2 record overall. He has played 1,359 minutes, has three assists, three points and three shot attempts.
“He’s kind of been the unsung hero for our team,” coach David MacWilliams said. “He’s one of those kids that is not going to get a lot of goals or assists, but let me tell you, if we didn’t have Kevin Klett in the center of the field, we wouldn’t have the record that we do.”
Redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Alex Cagle said Klett’s calm nature off the field has aided the team’s defense in 2015.
“I think he really sets a precedent for the rest of the team in playing your position, and he really makes sure to set a good example,” Cagle said. “Seeing Kevin and how good he was on the ball and how good his decision-making was, it was really evident he was going to come in and make an impact right away.”
Klett said the Owls hope to carry momentum from two wins in their last three contests.
“We want to win the conference tournament at the end of the year and make sure we have a spot in the NCAA tournament,” Klett said. “And try to take that as far as we can.”
Dan Newhart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @danny_newhart.