In the Locker Room: Kira Thorien
Junior women’s lacrosse goalkeeper and presidential candidate for the senior class Kira Thorien fulfills a college dream by being this week’s In the Locker Room. Matt Kaplan discusses Thorien’s Idaho roots, Boise State football and her feelings on running for class president.
Matt Kaplan: How big is lacrosse back home in Boise, Idaho?
Kira Thorien: It’s spreading like wildfire! When I picked it up as a junior, we were one of only five women’s teams in the entire state. By the next year, that number had doubled. I’m told nowadays girls in Boise can start playing as early as fifth and sixth grade. But lacrosse is definitely still the cool, alternative sport. Basketball and volleyball sadly still dominate in terms of number of participants, school funding, parent involvement and the like. Which blows my mind [because] our uniforms are indisputably hotter!
MK: Where does your fascination with the Boise State Broncos stem from?
KT: The same place it does for most people, right? Hometown pride, baby. Actually, I was 12 when I had my first football experience: I saw Boise State win their last home game as a Division I-AA school on that fabulous blue turf. And now look how far they have come in just ten seasons since joining up with the big boys. Oh, and my dad was sort of a hotshot QB back in the day, so football kind of runs in the blood, I guess, at least on the paternal side of the family. Grandpa Thorson never got over the fact that none of his grandchildren played. There were only two boys initially, neither of whom took up football, and his last hope, my very youngest cousin, lives up in Canada and is currently taking tap dancing and voice lessons and apparently refuses to partake in any sport requiring him to get his shoes muddy.
MK: Your thoughts on the “miracle game” against Oklahoma?
KT: Matt, I haven’t stopped thinking about that game and it was, what, almost five months ago? The New York Times was certainly right to call it “one of the wildest and most important upsets in college football history.” And that’s a direct quote! I have proof: the article is pinned up on my wall. But my favorite moment actually involves my mother. Boise State is trailing 41-42 in overtime, Zabransky drops back, fakes the pass...and the next thing I know, Moms, who has at best a fleeting interest in football, exclaims, “Oh my god, look, it’s the Statue of Liberty play!” She was right! Ian Johnson ended up running the ball into the endzone to put BSU on top 43-42. Apparently my mom had learned a similar play during a unit on football in one of her middle school PE classes. And apparently never forgot it.
MK: Does football reign in the potato state?
KT: That’s hard to say. We don’t have a single pro sports team anywhere in the state, unless you count the Caldwell Night Rodeo, which is a stop on the Pro Rodeo Tour. But it only rolls through town once every year. By the way, if you are ever in Idaho, you absolutely have to check the CNR out. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have! In the city of Boise, BSU football definitely reigns, though that’s a pretty recent development. Outside of the capital, I think I’d have to go with rodeo. Idaho doesn’t have the same kind of omnipresent football culture like Ohio or Texas or Nebraska. It’s no Friday Night Lights.
MK: How well known is the big “O” back home in Boise?
KT: Oberlin College is known by about ten people in Boise itself, most of whom are somehow related to me, and then probably 25 people in Sun Valley, Idaho, because they were really into sending their kids here about four or five years ago. But that trend seems to have died out.
MK: You are from Boise. Go to school in Ohio. You frequently globe hop. What are you running from?
KT: The Oberlin Review paparazzi.
MK: Is there anything that you are currently running for?
KT: Once the lacrosse season ends I’m going to start training for the Tow Path Half-marathon in Cleveland in October. But that wasn’t really what you are asking, right? Well, I also ran for Senior Class President.
MK: Are you prepared to lead the masses?
KT: I like to think of it as walking hand-in-hand with the masses, preferably barefoot and singing camp songs. Though by the time this article comes out, I guess we’ll know whether or not the masses thought I was prepared to lead! More than anything, I just wanted to give people options on the ballot. And do my part to ensure we don’t have long-winded, pretentious Commencement speeches.
MK: I see that former football player Geoffrey Peterson is also on the ballot. Are you scared you will split the athletic base? What other constituencies do you feel particularly strong about?
KT: Didn’t I ask you that same question a week or so ago? But it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t run on the basis of being an athlete. Sure, involvement in a team sport may help develop solid leadership skills, but plenty of non-varsity athletes at this school have acquired similar abilities in other, equally meaningful ways. And how many student-athletes are actually in this year’s junior class? In the grander scheme of things, not that many. Yes, a lot of my friends are athletes, but I’m also a former Harkie! I don’t think any of the athletes look at the ballot and go, “I will only vote for another athlete.” Though at the risk of starting a media war with Sweet P, I will say this: You mentioned he’s a “former” football player. How well does he really represent the other student-athletes, those of us who stuck it out for all four years?
MK: Do you feel that being a student-athlete at Oberlin College will unite or divide voters?
KT: I suspect most people just considered it a trivial fact when they went to the ballot box. Moreover, yes, I’m a student-athlete, but I’m a women’s lacrosse player. We don’t monopolize the tables in front of the salad bar and heckle people as they attempt to eat healthy.
MK: Bottom line: What will you do and how will you do it?
KT: Assuming I probably didn’t win, as a senior I’m going to register for classes, live off-campus with my closest girlfriends and get a big, cuddly Old English Sheepdog, who I think I’m going to name Bucket.
MK: Deb “The Great” Ranieri once told me to look fear in the face. Will you do the same?
KT: I wish Deb would tell me that someday, too. Actually, I’m ‘staring fear in the face’ every time I step into the goal cage and wait for some mean OWU girl to come barreling down on me, preparing to launch a hard rubber object going 60 mph straight into my face. You should see their expressions when they realize they’re about to get stuffed! It looks like something straight out of The Ring! Haha, I wish. We may have hit on something here, Matt. Maybe if I stopped staring at the girl’s face and kept my eye on the ball a little more, I’d come up with a lot more saves. On a vaguely related note, I know I’ll be able to see the fear in the face of Mark and Juice when they find out that Ohio State’s going to be playing BSU in the not-so-distant future.