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The Many Worlds of Keene State's Bev Cole

Bev Cole
Bev Cole

Don’t be fooled by her size. Generously listed as a five-foot midfielder on the Keene State College women’s soccer roster, Beverly Cole is a tough assignment for opposing defenders.

Constantly in motion, the Madbury, N.H., mighty mite spends the entire game flying up and down the wing, one minute crashing the net for a scoring opportunity, the next pestering an adversary to gain possession of the ball. She’s also the first one up in the air for a head ball. Don’t tell the diminutive dynamo she’s not going to get it.

To no one’s surprise, Bev Cole is the same way off the field, juggling the demands of being a varsity athlete not only with her academic pursuits as a high- achieving Spanish major but also with her responsibilities as a member of the New Hampshire air national guard. “Bev has always been that type of person who likes to have a lot on her plate,” said teammate and friend Kara Pavlidis. “I have no idea how she does it.”

“I don’t know where Bev gets the drive,” said her father, Bill Cole. “She’s always passionate about whatever she throws herself into.”

A good place to start might be her upbringing. The sixth of Bill and Judy Cole’s nine children, Bev almost has enough siblings for a soccer team, with five brothers and three sisters. “We call her our girl sandwich, said Bill Cole. “She has a couple of eager boys on either side of her. They were wrestlers, so she knows how to mix it up even though she’s small.”

While growing up with many brothers and sisters can create its share of problems, Bev describes her family as well-rounded. “It wasn’t like ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ when they’re throwing spaghetti sauce around and pulling pranks,” she said.

The Coles were very active and ambitious growing up. Older sisters Anna, Emily and Phoebe danced ballet while brothers Elisha, Billy, Jeff and Caleb split time between the soccer field and the wrestling mat. The youngest of the Cole clan, Simon, who is 12, has yet to pick his sports preference. Meanwhile, Billy wrestled at the University of Southern Maine and reached the Division III national tournament.

Soccer quickly became a passion for Bev. Crediting her brothers for instilling in her a toughness that she brought to the field, Bev helped lead her Oyster River High School team to the State (Class I) championship her junior year.

Instead of heading to college, Cole took a year off, traveling to Mexico, where, while working as a volunteer at a local church, she became enamored with the Spanish language. “I got to take all the Spanish I learned in high school and produce conversation,” she said. “I got better at conversing, listening and speaking.”

Always looking to improve her diction and stay current, Cole watches Spanish soccer on television. “It’s tricky because they speak so fast. But it’s good practice,” she said.

That same year (2010), she enlisted in the Air National Guard.

Taking the advice of her older sister Emily, an intelligence captain at Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, Bev decided to join the guard. “It’s a great career choice and opens many doors for you, including tuition reimbursement,” said Cole, who was also fascinated with the challenge of “being a part of something bigger than myself.”

For convenience purposes, Cole enrolled at UNH. While she was close to the base and her job as an assistant soccer coach at Oyster River, something was missing.

Looking to improve her fluency in Spanish, Cole went abroad the spring of 2012, studying in Granada, Spain. A visit from Pavlidis, a former Oyster River teammate who went on to play soccer at Keene State, gave Cole second thoughts. “I realized I really wanted to be at Keene State. I saw that Kara was playing there and I was envious of her opportunity to play,” said Cole. “I figured I’d better play while I had the chance.”

That fall, Cole was back on the soccer field, playing for the Owls of Keene State. “No one appreciated playing more than I did,” said Cole. “I realized how much it’s a privilege to play and I’m enjoying every moment.”

“I asked Kara if Bev could play at this level, and she said, ‘yes, without a doubt,’” said KSC Coach Denise Lyons. “She was right. Bev might be small, but she’s really feisty and tough and has been a great addition to the team.”

Moving into the Owls’ starting line-up at mid-season, Cole finished her freshman campaign with four goals and three assists, including the game-winner in KSC’s 2-1 victory over UMass-Dartmouth in the quarterfinals of the Little East tournament. “It was like a breath of fresh air,’ said Cole about her return to the pitch. “I looked forward to being on the field every day like I did when I was 10 years old.”

While she hasn’t been deployed, Cole had an opportunity to travel to El Salvador last winter for an air show. Fluent in Spanish, she served as an interpreter for the local people who stopped by the Air National Guard booth and asked questions about the pilot survival equipment the crew had bought down from Pease.

“I was the only girl that went on the trip,” said Cole. “People wanted to take pictures of us and with the equipment. They were very impressed and seemed really enthusiastic and fascinated by our equipment and excited we were there.”

Always on the go, Cole spent six weeks this summer in Mississippi, learning about her new job in aviation research management. “I thought it would be good to actually go out and work with the air crew members and see a different side of the base,” she said. Back on the soccer field this fall, Cole is having another productive season for the Owls, with two goals and three assists going into Saturday’s road game at UMass-Dartmouth.

Currently a junior, Cole will have several career options to consider when she graduates. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her sister Emily and attend officers’ training school and eventually work as a Spanish-English interpreter.

“I feel really blessed to have the opportunities that I’ve had so far,” said Cole. “It’s a little bit of a challenge to try and juggle all the different aspects of my life right now, but I like to be involved whether I’m at school and playing soccer or doing military things. It’s interesting to be a part of two separate worlds.”

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