For some athletes, certain things just come naturally.
For Linfield rover Kole Krieger, that something is football. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior is a three-year letterwinner for the Wildcats and is in his second season as a starter. He has twice been honored with second team all-Northwest Conference citations.
As a junior in 2010, Krieger tallied 36 tackles, including five for a loss, and also snagged two interceptions in helping the Wildcats capture the NWC championship and reach the second round of the NCAA playoffs. As a sophomore, Krieger was second on the team in total tackles, wrapping up 63 on the year. This season, Krieger is pace to deliver his finest season yet, ranking second on the team in total tackles with 15 through four games, including four last week against NWC rival Willamette.
Krieger chose Linfield after a storied career at nearby Sherwood High School. After receiving a competitive physics scholarship, Krieger knew that he wanted to be a part of Linfield's rich football tradition and academic environment.
“I just knew Linfield was a good choice. I came to the football camps here and had a great time,” says Krieger.
“We focused hard on recruiting Kole out of Sherwood High and he has not disappointed,” says head coach Joseph Smith. “His versatility allows us to do so much schematically on defense and his work ethic and accountability are of the highest order.”
Smith admires the ways in which Krieger has grown during his four seasons in a Linfield uniform.
“Kole has developed into the kind of player, leader and man we all hoped he would be. No matter what path Kole chooses in life, I have no doubt he will be successful and I know he will be a leading citizen and leader in whatever community he resides.”
As a high school student-athlete, Krieger didn't only turn heads on the football field. In addition to serving as football team captain and earning all-state honors as a cornerback at Sherwood, Krieger proved he could run fast. He was a state championship runner-up in both the 110-meter hurdles and the pole vault.
Krieger's mother, Robin, was a cross country athlete at the University of Idaho, and during middle school, Krieger began competing nationally in track and field. He went on to earn 10th place in the nation in the pole vault as a seventh grader and third place nationally as an eighth grader. As Krieger moved into high school, he began competing in the hurdles as well.
“Hurdles was just fun to do and I got better as I began practicing more,” recalls Krieger. “Pole vaulting was more of a passion.”
Off the playing field, Krieger has a smile that can make anyone laugh. His personality is contagious. He is described by friends as someone you “can't not get along with.” His maturity and kindness are obvious in his demeanor, but under the helmet, Krieger is known to deliver some tenacious hits.
“Kole has played three different positions since he entered the program and is a very versatile athlete,” says defensive backs coach Neil Fendall.
Krieger's athleticism fits perfectly with his position on the field. His designated position is rover, a hybrid linebacker and defensive back. In other words, it's Krieger's job to both cover a lot of ground and make a lot of tackles.
“It's fun because you have to react to plays more than you have to think about them,” says Krieger. “I have to make decisions quickly because the other defensive backs are depending on me to make the correct read and are playing off of my reaction.”
“He's willing to sacrifice for his team and learn each position,” says Fendall. “Like others in this group, he's a great teammate.”
A finance major, Krieger has been described by his coaches and teammates as a kind of “philosopher.” He is constantly thinking about everything going on around him. His football savvy is never more evident than on Saturday afternoons at Maxwell Field.
Entering Saturday's matchup with Puget Sound, Linfield fans can expect to see Krieger’s No. 9 uniform flying around the field for the 'Cats. Then again, it's not only Wildcat fans that end up knowing who No. 9 in purple is.
“Kole is someone I could not be more proud of,” says Smith. “He is the consummate Linfield football player: a man of character, a great athlete and a fierce competitor.”
-- Jordan Harlow '13
Two-time NWC all-star
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128