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Where are they Now? - Kristi Wiese-Grindle

Former Reynolds High soccer star helps her children discover the game

THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Kristi Wiese-Grindle is an active soccer mom and coach with her kids Emily, 9, and Hayden, 11, in the Eastside Timbers club.Kristi Wiese-Grindle has been part of plenty of big matches in her playing days, but soccer still stirs her stomach even if she's only turning on the television instead of taking the field herself. That was the scene as she awaited the Women's World Cup finale earlier this month from the couch in her living room — a phone nearby to exchange texted hoots and hollers with friends.

“I would be waiting with butterflies for the games to come on,” Kristi says. “We're world champions for goodness sake.”

Wiese-Grindle played a part in that movement while growing up in Troutdale in the '80s. As a freshman at Reynolds she walked into a team that had won back-to-back state titles. She quickly showed that she belonged, earning a spot up front as a striker during her rookie season. Wiese and her teammates made it three in a row, going through the playoffs without surrendering a goal, culminating with a 1-0 win over Beaverton in the title game.

“I came in as the youngest on the team, but I just remember playing soccer — it was my passion,” Kristi says. “It was awesome to be part of a championship team — I remember how hard I had to work.”

She played on the U.S. Development team during the off-season and was named an alternate for the national team. Her coach on those youth teams was Clive Charles — the legendary University of Portland coach who helped put Pilots' soccer on the map.

“I'm grateful for all of the opportunities that he gave me. With him it wasn't just about being a good player, it was about being a good person,” Kristi says. “He cared about each one of us, not just about winning games.”

After graduating Reynolds in 1989, Wiese-Grindle was part of Charles' inaugural recruiting class on the bluff. She led the Pilots with nine goals in her rookie year, and the Pilots would win three straight West Coast Conference titles. Portland went 18-2 and earned the program's first NCAA berth during her senior season.

“I'm proud to look back and see where we were and where we've come,” Kristi says.

The foundation was set for a program that would reach the national semifinals eight times, coming away with NCAA titles in 2002 and 2005.

“We started winning conference titles and the new recruits started coming in,” Kristi says. “It was more of a job in college — you were expected to perform at a certain level, but you also became family with your teammates.”

Some of those teammates went on to become world-class athletes. Tiffeny Milbrett and Shannon MacMillan remain all-time top-10 scorers for the U.S. National team and played key roles in winning the 1999 World Cup championship.

Wiese-Grindle was there to cheer them on in Pasadena.

“We painted our fingernails red, white and blue and had stuff on our face and in our hair. We were all decked out,” Kristi says.

She continues to play in adult leagues and can often be found at Providence Park cheering on the Timbers and Thorns, but her greatest joy comes from seeing her children 11-year-old Hayden and 9-year-old Emily learn the sport. She is active with both of her kids as a coach and soccer mom with the Eastside Timbers club.

“We're in our 40s now and still playing rec leagues,” Kristi says. “A lot of us are still in the area and seeing our kids play now. Soccer is just something that stays in your blood. Growing up this was Soccer City, USA and that has continued.”

Kristi studied nursing in college and has spent 23 years in the profession at Portland Adventist Medical Center. She one day hopes to take her skills overseas on a mission trip.

“I knew after my first semester that is what I wanted to do,” Kristi says. “You need to have the technical skills, but you also need compassion, patience and understanding. We are giving of ourselves to others, but we also receive something special in return — it's an amazing career.”

Email: dball@theoutlookonline.com


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