Player Profile - Lo'eau LaBonta
By Rachel Gaylor
If you’re looking for a player that epitomizes the saying “hard work pays off,” look no further than FC Kansas City Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta. The California native and Stanford alum has solidified herself in the Blues’ midfield, but the journey to this point has been long, hard and challenging.
LaBonta started playing soccer at an early age and, though she dabbled in other sports, stuck with it.
“It was just my brother, dad and I,” LaBonta said. “He had us playing basketball, some hockey, baseball, softball, but all the way through I stuck with soccer.”
LaBonta started at Stanford University in the fall of 2011 and, after she exhausted her NCAA eligibility, was drafted 34th overall to Sky Blue FC in January 2015. She reported for preseason camp for Sky Blue and was signed to a contract before the start of the season. However, in July she was waived to make room on the roster for the World Cup returners.
“It was a huge shock,” LaBonta said. “And obviously very disappointing. It was a reality check of the league. You can’t just come in and play, you have to keep working. I took it as a challenge to try and get back onto a team.”
After she was released, LaBonta went back to Stanford to finish her degree and decide what to do next.
“I didn’t want to end my soccer career like that,” she said. “I had to keep working hard. I did double days of training on my own, I was practicing and doing extra cross training and just working extremely hard.”
Then, her assistant coach from college told her that FC Kansas City would love to have her. Not knowing anyone, she made the trip to the Midwest. She signed a contract and has worked her way into the starting line-up.
Since making her Blues debut in May 2016 against Orlando, LaBonta has played in 17 matches, starting 13 of them and has played the full 90 minutes in 7 straight matches dating back to last season.
“First and foremost, she’s a very nice person,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Her enthusiasm and energy is contagious. She’s willing to put in the time and effort. She’s just constantly getting better and has transformed herself into a starter.”
Along with garnering praise from the coaching staff, she has also grown close to her teammates and said that that is her favorite part of being on the team.
“I just love being a part of this team,” LaBonta said. “We all live in the same complex, we all go get meals together, we are together all the time, we are on flights together. I just love this team.”
The long days of traveling are difficult, but LaBonta said that whenever Cassius Dwyer, Sydney Leroux’s son, is with the team, everything is better.
“My favorite thing is when Cassius is with us.” She said. “He’s such a good baby and everyone on the team always wants to take care of him or hold him. He definitely brings a light to the long days.”
Q&A Lightning round:
Q. What is your go-to karaoke song?
The song that we are always singing and yelling is “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.
Q. What’s the one thing that’s at home that you would want to bring here?
Well, I would say the beach but since I can’t physically bring a beach here, In-N-Out.
Q. Favorite cheat meal?
Ice cream. Constantly. I would have ice cream at every opportunity if I could.
Watch Lo'eau and FC Kansas City play at Swope Soccer Village during the 2017 season. Single game tickets are available to purchase here.