It's April 10, 2022 and Kris Reaves is back on the field he once called his home turf.
A few seconds left on the clock and Reaves is jogging onto Merlo field alongside a sea of navy blue t-shirts, waiting for the time to end and Villa Maria hall to claim their victory.
It's the annual Villa-Christie soccer derby, and Reaves plays for the last few seconds of the game in the rain, watching Villa Maria hall win 5-1.
Reaves knows soccer, but he also knows Villa. Living in Villa for two years during his junior and senior year at UP, Reaves got a good handle on the hall’s culture.
During his life on the Bluff, Reaves has worn a lot of hats. First, he was a student, graduating in 2018, as well as a student athlete, playing on the men’s soccer team during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. But now, after playing as a professional soccer player for multiple teams, Reaves returns to the hall he once called home as its assistant hall director.
“One of my strengths would be to be flexible,” Reaves said. “You know, you get traded to different teams or you have to go to different teams or different universities, so you just kind of learn that flexibility. And that helps when coming back and doing different jobs on campus, just being flexible and learning different roles.”
He joins in on the post-win celebration with the residents. The Villa men yell and bang drums as the clock times out and the fans rush the field. High fives pass between Villa and Christie. Reaves smiles, congratulating his residents.
With this energy, it’s no question why Kris Reaves would return to the hall.
But Reeves didn’t start out on the Bluff.
Reaves grew up in Atlanta, Georgia until age 16, when he moved to Dallas, Texas. From there, Reaves went to Wake Forest College before transferring to UP.
“I did high school in Texas, Graduated from high school and went to college at Wake Forest which is in Winston Salem, North Carolina,” Reaves said. “I did two years there and then transferred to Portland for another two years.”
Reaves grew up playing soccer in Atlanta and Texas, starting when he was twelve years old.
“My parents definitely just wanted somewhere to let me run around and hang out with my friends,” Reeves said.
But, eventually soccer turned from an average extracurricular to Reeves’ main reason to move to UP.
Reaves transferred from Wake Forest to Portland after Nick Carlin-Voigt was named as the new head coach of the Men’s soccer team program.
“There was a new soccer coach, Nick Carlin-Voigt, who was in his first semester here, and he had a big name for himself because he came from UCLA.” Reaves said. “So I came in and joined the soccer team for the next two years.”
Even now, Carlin-Voigt thinks fondly of Kris’ time with the team.
“Kris is a very thoughtful young man, very responsible, does a great job in terms of serving others, and that's what he did here at UP and I've seen a lot of growth in him and his confidence,” Carlin-Voigt said.
After graduating with a degree in political science, Reaves went to play soccer professionally for FC Dallas in early 2018.
After the end of the season, Reaves moved to play for the Colorado Switchbacks before getting several sports-related injuries that forced him to retire from the field.
“I got a lot of injuries when I went professional,” Reaves said. “I had three surgeries back to back, three surgeries for three years. So in a sense I kind of saw that dream dwindle out of me. My dream was to go pro, but to play and have a long career? It's challenging.”
Reaves retired from the Colorado Switchbacks in late 2020, deciding to use his time to further his education.
“At that time I was out, sitting on the sidelines, and thought,‘well, it'd be good to finish my education or even progress in my education,’” Reaves said. “So I’m going back and getting my MBA just because it's uncertain what the future is.”
Initially going to work as an assistant coach for the soccer team, Reaves noticed the position as assistant hall director in Villa Maria was open and jumped at the opportunity to return to the hall.
“This position for AHD opened up, and to be back in Villa would be awesome to give back and help the students where I started at the university,” Reaves said. “Things came back full circle, I was glad to be back and it's been a good experience so far.”
Reaves is no stranger to a role in leadership, acting as team captain for the Portland men's soccer team for the two years he played.
“What he always did was lead by example,” Carlin-Voigt said. “He always led with integrity and was committed to the ideals of the program and the mission of UP. He really embodied that as the captain of our men's soccer team.”
Residents of Villa echo this claim of impactful leadership, citing Reaves' support and assistance in the events that make Villa Maria the hall that it is.
“He helps organize our events, keeps spirits high,” Payton Frampton, a sophomore resident of Villa Maria, said. “He's always out helping to organize SNATR (Sunday night at the races), he does a lot of the behind the scenes work.”
In soccer, collegiate and professional, Kris maintained a drive that wasn’t beaten by injuries and hindrances, but instead strengthened by his experiences.
“What can I do? What can I control? And some things you can't really control, so I'm just trying to put my best foot forward and my energy into whatever's in front of me next,” Reaves said.
Kate Cuadrado is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.