When asking any athlete about their experience playing on a U.S. national team, one assumes the sport in question is implied. That is until you meet Alev Kelter.
“Well,” she hesitated, “For what sport?” And added a laugh after being presented the question.
The senior for the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team is also an accomplished soccer player. Kelter is part of the player pool for the under-23 women’s national soccer team and has played for Wisconsin’s soccer team for three years until this season.
The opportunity to try out for the 2014 U.S. Olympic hockey team drove Kelter to focus her attention solely on hockey during her senior year at UW.
“I knew there was a chance to try out for the Olympic team so I chose to put all my marbles in one bag and go for that goal,” Kelter said.
Her dynamic athleticism has also shown itself on the rink this season as the aggressive and quick skater is making the transition from her traditional place on the defensive unit to a role as a forward.
For head coach Mark Johnson, Kelter’s ability to switch roles on the ice comes at a pivotal point for the team. With junior Brittany Ammerman out due to injury, Kelter has stepped up to help fill the void.
“This gives us an opportunity to move her up to forward, and we did it a little bit last year … and she did really well,” Johnson said. “With her speed and her ability to generate some offense, that’s part of the reason we did it.”
It didn’t take long for Kelter to adapt to the new position. In her first game as a forward this season Oct. 6 against Lindenwood, Kelter recorded her first career hat trick. It took her just 2 minutes, 17 seconds to prove the decision to move her up was a good one, as she scored the team’s first goal in a 9-1 victory.
Kelter ranks third on the team in goals with four and sixth in points scored. The opportunity to have a greater offensive role on the team was one Kelter greeted with enthusiasm.
“It’s been a fun transition. There are a lot of things you have to be aware of when you play forward and coach just is taking me through the motions,” Kelter said. “My teammates have done a great job of integrating me into the forwards.”
As a defender for the Badger hockey team in the previous three seasons, Kelter missed the first part of each season while competing with the Badger women’s soccer team. Last season, Kelter saw her first action on the ice Dec. 11 – 17 games into hockey play. While she said there will always be challenges to joining a team late, the dual-sport athlete added it was easy to jump back into the routine with her hockey teammates.
With her decision to focus on hockey this season, Kelter has played in all 10 games. She is excited to see where her hockey ability takes her, but she hasn’t forgotten about her teammates who call the McClimon Complex home.
“I am [really] missing my girls playing soccer,” Kelter said. “I’m still cheering them on and being a fan.”
As a soccer player at UW, Kelter found similar success on the field as she has on the ice. Last season, the center midfielder was third on the team in points with nine. She played in 19 of the Badgers’ 20 games, starting 14.
Kelter will still have one year of eligibility for soccer after this fourth year of hockey, saying she will see where that opportunity leads her down the road.
“If someone is going to do all that stuff, they’ve got to be a pretty good athlete,” Johnson said. “I think that having played multiple sports and at a high level, it helps our situation here … soccer and hockey, there are a lot of similarities in the way we play the game.”
If one multisport Kelter athlete wasn’t impressive enough, Alev’s twin sister Derya has also been a member of both the women’s soccer and hockey programs at Wisconsin the previous three seasons.
“It has been a blessing to have her here,” Alev said. “I wouldn’t be the player I am now without my twin.”
Hockey and soccer have shared the focus of Alev’s attention, but the athlete also had a brief moment of stardom in the flag-football scene. Kelter helped lead her high school team to a state title in 2007, earning all-state and all-conference honors along the way.
“We had a bit of a break between our hockey and soccer season so our school picked [flag football] up from Title IX,” she explained. “The basketball and volleyball players, all of us that didn’t get to play together started that first season of flag football. It was pretty intense. It made me respect a lot of these football players.”
While we may not see Kelter add a third sport to her list as a Badger, she is still looking to continue her success at Wisconsin, hoping that her time in Madison will help her achieve her ultimate goal of being an Olympic athlete – maybe even in two sports.