It was only after travelling halfway around the world from New Zealand to play for the Georgetown women’s soccer team, that junior midfielder Chloe Knott — then a freshman — realized her homesickness.
“It was really cool. It was a lot,” Knott said about her first few days in the United States “I was just taking it all in, so excited about everything.”
Knott had made the decision without hesitation to leave New Zealand with the support of friends and family in fall 2014, diving headfirst into a foreign culture with foreign teammates, far from home.
In the first days of preseason freshman year, she found herself caught up in a whirlwind of getting gear and experiencing new culture and learning names. She loved it. And at Georgetown, she has thrived.
Moving from England to New Zealand at age 13 provided Knott with a real opportunity to play soccer at a higher level.
“I didn’t think I would ever go far with soccer in England, because so many people were trying to do the same thing, and it was such a big thing. Like, you grew up playing football in England, from age 3,” Knott said. “But then when I came to New Zealand, not many girls were playing, and I was already ahead of most of them.”
Knott seized her chance, captaining her high school, Rangitoto College, for four years. She also earned spots in New Zealand national team squads at various levels, though was unable to play in competitive matches under FIFA rules concerning time lived in a country. Still, Knott stands proudly on the sideline in exhibition games for the New Zealand national anthem, an anthem that represents the home she quickly came to love.
The decision to leave New Zealand proved surprisingly easy.
“One of my best friends at the time came to America, went to UNC, and she came back twice a year,” Knott said. “Every time she came back, she was like, ‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, I don’t want to come home. … Chloe, you have to do it.’ So I wanted to at least try to do it.”
With a lack of high-level women’s professional soccer in New Zealand, the pursuit of a professional soccer career required a move abroad; seeing the success her friends were enjoying only solidified her intentions.
Knott enjoyed full support from her parents in her decision to leave home.
“My dad watches every single game at home,” Knott said. “He definitely missed me; he wants footage all the time. I think he wants me to go back to New Zealand instead of staying here, and I really want to stay here for a bit longer. But my mom was like, ‘You have to, you have to go. This is something you can’t turn down.’”
Knott knew little of American colleges, and only opened her search for a school towards the end of her senior year of high school. She nearly chose Colorado College, but was ultimately swayed by Georgetown’s urban setting and academic prestige.
“I think anywhere, I would have been happy. I like to think that if I’d come over here I would’ve been happy anywhere,” Knott said.
Just as she did when she first moved to New Zealand, Knott has again fully seized her opportunity in entirely new surroundings.
“I’m going to be honest, she’s far different than what I expected,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “Typically what happens with international kids, is they’re super technical and have the athleticism of a manatee. Chloe’s actually the opposite; she’s probably our fittest kid, covers the most ground and runs more than anybody.”
Earning a team award for most improved player at the end of her sophomore season, Knott has refined her technical ability and fits in well with junior midfielder Taylor Pak and junior midfielder Rachel Corboz in a starting midfield lineup that could rival any in the nation.
Knott, Pak and Corboz constitute part of a junior class that contributes nine players to the team, including five starters, which as a result forms the core personality of the squad off the field.
“It was more sophomore year, when we actually started playing together, that we actually spent more time together and became close friends,” Knott said. “There’s nine of us, and we’re all just best friends. It’s like a family. … I feel like the whole team is as well, this year is like a family.”
That chemistry has translated into success on the field. For the second straight season, Knott has started every game in defensive midfield alongside Pak, both proving vital cogs in a Georgetown team that has risen towards the top of national rankings thanks to major upsets over No. 7 Virginia (8-2-2, 1-1-2 ACC) and No. 2 West Virginia (10-1-1, 2-0-0 Big 12).
The team now stands as an unexpected contender for a deep run into the postseason. If a conference title or NCAA tournament success comes to Shaw Field this year, it will be with the help of Knott, a midfielder who has truly covered more ground on her journey to college soccer than any other Hoya.