By Danielle D’Avanzo ’13
In January 2012, Kayla Knapp was living in Los Angeles — and the first three weeks of the New Year were the most terrifying of her young adult life. Unemployed and with barely enough money to afford life’s essentials, she was constantly applying for jobs, but few responded and no offers were extended.
“Even though it wasn’t a lot of money, I was living unemployment check to unemployment check,” Kayla recalled. “I hit a point where I had to get an extension of my unemployment and there was a break where I missed getting the check for two weeks. It was really scary.”
The thought of returning home to Canterbury, New Hampshire had crossed her mind several times during the three-week span.
“Maybe I should go back home [to the east coast] and regroup,” Kayla said to herself. “Work somewhere to save up my money and try again.”
The road to uncertainty began when Kayla first arrived on South Hill in the fall of 2006 as a Television-Radio major. The ability to get involved right away and learn how to use equipment drew her to Ithaca, and she wasn’t disappointed.
Although the TV-R program had a lot to offer, there was still something missing. That is, until she starting taking classes for her minor.
As she reached the halfway point of her schooling, Kayla discovered that she really enjoyed her journalism classes. At first, she thought she was “stuck” as a TV-R major, but professor Mead Loop informed her that the option to switch majors was available. She kept that in mind when she interned at WMUR in New Hampshire for the summer. That experience helped Knapp realize she needed to make a change.
“I loved being in a news station, but all I was doing was running the cameras or running the teleprompter,” Kayla said. “That would have been fine if that was just because it was my internship, but I was seeing people there that were 45 years old and still running the teleprompter or the camera. That’s when I thought, ‘That’s not what I want to do with my career.’”
Knapp evaluated her credits and found that although it would be close, she could switch. Everything fell into place her final two years at Ithaca College, and she graduated with a B.A. in Journalism.
One of Kayla’s most memorable and influential moments while earning her degree was participating in the Park School’s ICLA program. She got a taste of the west coast, and after graduation in 2010 she wanted nothing more than to go back.
She spent her first post-graduate summer in Ithaca working two jobs in order to save up enough money to move to LA. During the day, she worked part-time at a very small media arts camp called Ithaca Media Arts, and at night she was an employee at Target.
In October 2010, Kayla and a friend packed up their things into her car and made the cross-country drive toward the city filled with self-proclaimed sunshine, hopes and dreams.
There was plenty of sun, but the hopes and dreams were scarce. Throughout her rollercoaster ride of employment and job-hunting, Kayla made sure to always make time for her newfound passion — blogging about soccer.
She fell in love with soccer at a very young age, whether it was playing or watching games with her dad. However, she never thought of sports journalism as a profession until after she graduated college.
“I’ve always loved sports but while I was in college, I was really focused on hard news,” Knapp said. “I almost just didn’t think that sports would feel as rewarding as doing news. I loved my sports journalism class, but I was really into doing hard news and that was what I thought I wanted to do up until graduation. Then when I got out of school, I started to blog about soccer and I realized that’s what I really wanted to do.”
She got her foot into the soccer world when she started writing and editing for Aerys Sports, a website run by women that covers over 70 teams. As expected, Knapp was involved with the soccer section.
One of the teams she covered was the LA Galaxy. During the 2011 season, she only missed one game as the squad made it all the way to the Major League Soccer Championship. It was also “just pure luck” that LA was to host the MLS Cup that season.
“The entire soccer world in November of last year descended on LA,” Knapp said. “Because of Twitter, I had kind of connected with some of these soccer writers and I ended up going to a couple of some pre-MLS Cup parties and I got to meet all of these people.”
Knapp did her best to network at these parties and keep in contact afterwards, but she still wasn’t receiving any job offerings. Yes, she did have her work with Aerys to keep her occupied, but she was still unemployed. Money was running thin, and her frustrations were beginning to cloud her hopes of becoming a soccer writer.
Despite everything, Kayla pulled through those three weeks of hardship, and by the end of January 2012 things were turning around.
Through Twitter, she was able to connect with six other women to create Women United FC, an online community for female soccer fans to connect and learn more about the game. As she became more well known throughout the soccer media world, someone Knapp had met at one of the pre-MLS cup parties called and offered her a job covering So Cal soccer for Soccer by Ives. The website is known to be a starting platform for many writers, and it did not fail expectations.
“I love the people I work with,” Knapp said of her current professional experience. “It’s amazing to be able to work in soccer every day. I get to watch soccer games and get paid to do it. I’m excited to go to work every day and I’m enjoying it. Not everyone can say that.”
In January 2012, Kayla Knapp wouldn’t have said this.