Devanie Kleemeyer spent her first two years of high school dedicated to becoming one of the state’s best goalkeepers.
Taking up the position during her freshman year at Napavine High School, she proved to be a quick study.
While much of her first season of high school soccer involved watching from the sidelines, she used the time to her advantage, learning everything she could to better prepare herself for the jump to varsity the following year.
By the time she became a starter, few in the 2B classification were better in net as she capped 2014 by being named second team all-state by the Associated Press – an extraordinary honor made even more spectacular given the relatively short amount of time she had played the position.
Several changes, however, occurred prior to the start of her junior year.
The first came when she transferred to Adna, and while the team welcomed her with open arms, one concern quickly surfaced for the newest addition to the Pirates’ roster.
“They already had a goalie,” Kleemeyer said.
That they did, and a very gifted one at that in Ashley Pardue, who during the previous season as a sophomore helped Adna finish third in state.
With Kleemeyer aboard, it was almost an embarrassment of riches for the Pirates and the initial plan by head coach Juli Aselton was to have both standouts split time in goal – a thought which was immediately scrapped once Aselton got a glimpse of Kleemeyer’s offensive prowess during practice.
“Her skill set is amazing,” Aselton said. “She is such an exceptional athlete you could place her anywhere on the field and she’d be successful.”
Only a few practices in to the new season and Kleemeyer was asked to make the move to forward, something she wasn’t 100 percent sure of to begin with.
“I was really iffy about making the change at first,” Kleemeyer said. “I played volleyball in eighth grade and didn’t play soccer, and was a goalie the last two years. So I hadn’t played up front since grade school. I wasn’t sure how things would go.”
The answer came just two games into last season when Kleemeyer had already tallied five goals. An offensive juggernaut was born.
“She brings a little bit of everything when she plays,” Aselton said. “She has speed. She has strength. She knows how to use her body to her advantage and shield players, and she has a wicked left foot.”
All that added up to doom for opposing defenses.
She went on to score 23 goals, including a four-goal performance in the Pirates’ 5-0 victory over Friday Harbor in the first round of the state tournament in 2015, leading Adna to an 19-1 record and a third-place finish in state. The Pirates’ only loss was in the state semifinals when they fell to eventual state champion Okanogan in penalty kicks.
Once again Kleemeyer was placed on the all-state team – albeit as a forward this time around.
She was not alone on the team as seven Pirates earned all-state honors last year. Joining Kleemeyer on the first team was seniors Kendra Stajduhar, Melyssa Nocis, and Kelsey Aselton, while juniors Holli Edminster, Kenya Lorton and Ashley Pardue appeared on the second team.
Gone is last year’s exceptional senior class, but the Pirates haven’t missed a beat this year.
“We really didn’t know how we were going to do coming into this year,” Kleemeyer said. “We lost such a great group of seniors and have many young players. Team chemistry is so important.”
Despite featuring six freshmen, Adna sports an 11-1 record with its only setback coming in the Pirates’ second match of the season against 4A Walla Walla.
“We weren’t sure how things would go,” Aselton said, “but it’s been incredible. This team has bonded really well. They just enjoy being around each other and playing together.”
Kleemeyer has done her part, scoring 15 goals during the first 11 games.
However, if you ask her, finding the back of the net may be secondary this season to assisting a player on a goal.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love scoring goals,” Kleemeyer said, “but if I can help set up a teammate to score that sometimes feels even better. I’ve always thought if we scored seven goals in a game, I’d want seven different players scoring. We had a freshman the other game (Cierra Swenson) get a hat trick. It was awesome to see her experience that. I want everyone to be involved. It’s going to make us a better team when we hit the playoffs.”
Aselton plans to once again use Kleemeyer’s flexibility in certain situations. She will use her star during PKs due to her length and has even inserted her on defense on occasion this season.
“She’s willing to play anywhere,” Aselton said. “She just wants to go out there and help the team win. Her attitude has always been positive. She’s just a very coachable kid.”