Q&A: Kaitlyn MacBean

The Nittany Lions’ leading returning women’s soccer scorer nearly chose a different sport.

photo of Kaitlyn MacBean on soccer pitch with ball by Cardoni


Q: Why did you choose Penn State?

MACBEAN: I grew up in Minnesota, and I wanted to stay in the Big Ten because that’s what I had grown up with. I grew up going to Minnesota games, and that’s where my mom (Bridget) went. Everyone thought that I would go there, but I kind of wanted to leave, and I looked at a few schools. When I came here, there was just nowhere else like it. The coaches, team, everything about it just clicked. I knew that I wanted to come here. I visited schools after Penn State, but they didn’t even compare.


Q: If you were going to play another sport, what would it be and why?

MACBEAN: Ice hockey. I played hockey my whole life. I almost chose it over soccer during my freshman year of high school.


Q: Have you ever skated or played with anyone on any of the hockey teams here, or just gone over to Pegula and skated or shot some pucks?

MACBEAN: I haven’t. I want to so bad. When I played in Minnesota, I played with (Penn State hockey goalie) Josie Bothun; we were on the same summer league team.


Q: What is the last book you read that wasn’t for a class?

MACBEAN: The Confident Mind last year with Ann (Cook), our assistant coach. That was really good. I highly recommend it. I wanted to focus on my mental game; we talk about that a lot and how we can weaponize that. I met with her once a week. It had a bunch of strategies that make you elite in your mind. Ways to isolate your mistakes and only focus on the next moment ahead. I think it helped me this past fall a lot.


Q: What music are you listening to these days?

MACBEAN: I’m a big country music fan. I went to Luke Combs when he was (at Beaver Stadium in April), I went to Zach Bryan (at the Bryce Jordan Center in March), love Morgan Wallen, all the country music artists.


Q: I would imagine that Luke Combs concert was pretty nuts.

MACBEAN: It was crazy. It was so good.


Q: If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

MACBEAN: Probably some form of pasta. Maybe pasta with vodka sauce and chicken.


Q: Who in your opinion is the best soccer player in the world right now?

MACBEAN: Male or female?


Q: Up to you.

MACBEAN: That’s a good question. (pauses) Probably (Lionel) Messi. I feel like I have to say that (laughs).


Q: What was the favorite goal you’ve ever scored, if you had to pick one?

MACBEAN: I have two, for different reasons. The Ohio State one (last October) was up there for a favorite because we were down 1-0 and ended up winning 2-1. And then the second one, even though we lost, would be the Clemson game (in the 2023 national quarterfinals), because the energy after that goal was insane and I think it got us going.


Q: What does your perfect day look like, from wake to sleep?

MACBEAN: Wake up, go get a coffee. Probably spend most of the day on the lake; I live on a lake at home, so some wakesurfing. And then some soccer at night. And then maybe dinner with my family.


Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

MACBEAN: Slow drivers.


Q: What is one thing about you that might surprise people?

MACBEAN: I feel like it surprises people a lot that I played hockey for most of my life, just because they don’t expect that.


Q: Who is your funniest teammate?

MACBEAN: Probably my roommate, Rebecca (Cooke). She’s from Ireland, so when she learns things from the U.S. … some of the things she mixes up are hilarious. And her mannerisms are so funny.


Q: What are some of your future career plans that don’t involve soccer?

MACBEAN: I’m kind of up in the air. I’m taking all the premed classes, so ideally I’ll go to the (NWSL) draft and play pro after college for a few years, but I’m taking all the prereqs for med school, so med school is probably in my plans. My backup would be going into med sales.


Q: What is one place you’ve never traveled that you hope to visit one day?

MACBEAN: Probably Italy.


Q: Any specific part of it?

MACBEAN: Not necessarily. I like Rome. The Amalfi Coast is so pretty. There are a few places there I’d want to go.


Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

MACBEAN: I’m a very anxious person and I like to move fast, so probably just slow down and enjoy everything while you have it. Especially in college. I feel like my time here has gone so fast, and I’m going into my last season. So I think just slow down and enjoy the ride.


Q: That segues into my last question: What are you most looking to about your last season this fall?

MACBEAN: I’m really excited about this fall. I think we have a good team going in and I think it’ll be interesting because we have a new conference, with USC and UCLA and those teams. It’s going to be a different approach to the Big Ten, which is cool, but it’ll prepare us well for the NCAA Tournament, and I think we’re going to make a deep run because of it, so I’m excited for that new challenge.



Hometown: Excelsior, Minn.

Claim to Fame: Led Penn State in scoring in 2023 with 26 points

Campus: University Park

In the Classroom: The Academic All-Big Ten selection is a pre-medicine major.

Favorite Things: Country music; pasta with vodka sauce