Alexandra Kimball, an assistant coach for UNC women’s soccer and a former four-year letterman for head coach Anson Dorrance, helped the Tar Heels to two College Cups in 2016 and 2018. Kimball, who is half-Peruvian, represented Peru in the Copa America tournament in Cali, Colombia in 2022.
The Daily Tar Heel Sports Editor Shelby Swanson called Kimball on Wednesday morning to discuss what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Daily Tar Heel: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Alex Kimball: “I think it’s evolved because, growing up, I don’t remember this being a thing. I don’t remember Latin people being celebrated in any way, shape or form. So the fact that that’s evolved within itself … to be an event where people with our cultural background are recognized and appreciated says a lot about the growth of society.”
DTH: You represented Peru in the 2022 Copa America tournament; tell me about that and what that experience meant to you.
Kimball: Growing up, my number one coach was my grandfather — my mom’s dad. And if there’s two things he loves in life, it’s soccer and his country [Peru]. My grandpa, around Thanksgiving of 2021, got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in his liver and colon. I was coming off of an ACL reconstruction and I wasn’t sure if was going to be healthy in time to try to make this run to make the team for that event … Doctors put him on a timeline, so that’s really what drove me through the entire process, was just the thought of him being able to see me in a Peruvian jersey and representing Peru.
Being raised in here in the States, there was a lot I had to learn about what it meant to be Peruvian and what it looks like and how patriotic our supporters are. It was a very cool experience to interact with other Latinx female footballers. It was a very, very cool process and I think circles back to the fact that the women’s game is growing and it’s better. I’m excited about where soccer in women’s culture is headed.
I got to see the game in different perspectives and different aspects. Overall, it was an awesome thing. The feeling I got being able to give my grandpa a hug after matches was, probably, top 5.