Soccer siblings K.J. and Boston Ely have both collected conference titles for their respective schools, and they’re both hungry for more before the season ends.
K.J., a senior on the Columbus North girls soccer team, and Boston, a freshman on the Columbus East boys soccer squad, will both eye a sectional championship this week as the sectional round gets underway for K.J. today and Boston on Wednesday.
K.J. and Boston both began with soccer when they were around 4 years old.
K.J. also played basketball and ran track in her youth. As she got older, the grind of the three sports eventually became too much for her. When it came to deciding what sport she wanted to choose, it was an easy decision.
“Soccer was one I always loved the most. I always enjoyed that one more than others,” K.J. said.
Like his older sister, Boston played soccer and basketball in his youth. When it came to decision time, he also chose soccer.
“I decided this year to pick up soccer as my main sport because I felt like I was better at it, and I could get farther with it,” Boston said.
Their mother Tanya was a member of the first North girls soccer team in 1993. Their father, Jason played basketball and football for the Bull Dogs.
K.J. started out with the Columbus Express Soccer Club until she was a freshman when she made the transition to Alliance FC. Boston plays for the Express.
K.J. described her mother being the “Uber” driver and taking them to many practices, games and tournaments when they were younger.
Tanya mentioned the schedule was mostly convenient when they both were on the Express because she could pick up K.J. and drop off Boston or vice versa on most days. They also played in a lot of the same tournaments. When K.J. switched over to Alliance, Tanya said it was mostly carpooling.
“I enjoyed the carpools and meeting all the girls. I know a lot of girls from taking them to and from practices. I’m going to miss those days,” Tanya said.
Since North was in the blood of their parents, it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise at the time if both K.J and Boston continued the family tradition and played for the Bull Dogs.
Boston was originally planning to play for North, but changed his mind and chose to play for the Olympians.
Being at different schools, it leaves a lot of family banter throughout the house. Tanya and Jason would be split wearing North and East shirts going to their kids’ soccer games.
Boston mentioned that he is happy with the decision he’s made. He and K.J. both said they’ll always support each other and cheer each other on, even if they were on opposite ends cheering during the annual girls and boys rivalry games back in August.
“It’s different going to all her games wearing North stuff and cheering her on,” Boston said. “I do get some weird looks when I show up there wearing East practice stuff.”
“He enjoys it (at East),” K.J. said. “It’s not really a rivalry between us. We’re going to support each other, regardless, but it’s still fun to joke around at the house.”
Boston attended a lot of the winter training with the Olympians last offseason. He built a lot of bonds and relationships with the players on the team, which East coach Josh Gonsior believes led him to play for the Olympians.
Boston has played mostly JV but has seen some varsity minutes, as well. With 11 seniors on the team, it creates a logjam of many players battling for minutes this season.
“He felt like part of the family pretty quickly. He’s a really good kid. He comes from a really good family,” Gonsior said. “He works hard, and I think the work ethic is what really sets him apart and makes him fit in really well with these guys. A lot of the older guys appreciate when he comes up to a varsity training session that he’s not going to miss a beat, and he’s reliable.”
A great quality that K.J. possesses as a soccer player is her ability to play forward, midfield or defense. When North coach David Young arrived at the program three years ago, he said K.J. would want to know what each player’s role was and had a willingness to jump into any role. He said her intelligence and leadership is what makes her the versatile player that she is.
K.J. played outside back last year when the Bull Dogs made a run to the state’s final four in Class 3A. As a forward this season, she has six goals and leads the team with 12 assists.
“She’s not afraid of making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, and she’s typically not a player that makes the same mistake twice,” Young said. “She’s a great asset to the program, and she’s definitely going to be missed next year.”
K.J. is undecided about soccer future. She’s plans to major in mass communications and public relations, but is undecided which college she’ll be attending.
If she doesn’t play collegiately, K.J. will try intramural or perhaps do some teaching. She currently teaches the pre-academy girls, which is the 7-8-year-olds at CESC.
“I know soccer will always be a part of my life,” K.J. said. “I definitely want to do intramural to keep up with it. I enjoy (coaching) and maybe keep up with that, too.”
K.J. and Boston have both won conference titles this season, and they hope they both can add more to the collection on Saturday.
Boston said learning and watching his older sister play growing up has definitely made an influence and impact on him to be the soccer player he is today.
“Watching all her games her freshman year playing varsity, it definitely influenced me to work very hard to try to be like her and get on the varsity team my freshman year,” Boston said. “It helped me a lot.”