From kicking soccer balls with Saguaro Cactus as spectators in Arizona, to doing the same in the fresh air of North Carolina and ultimately under the Northern Lights in Sweden; Mackenzie Semerad still does the kicking in Phoenix, Arizona as she coaches young women in the sport she has loved since she first remembers kicking a soccer ball at age four. Yet, this all includes a balancing act that includes corporate and political branding via social media platforms and digital marketing.
Being able to spend an hour recently with Semerad following her return from ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) meetings in Kobe, Japan, where she worked as a key team member representing American business interests; you learn soccer, cheeseburgers, politics, corporate branding and someone with a cold wet nose named, Nash; are all part of this former Arizona State University women’s soccer team central midfielder standout.
Candidates.vote — How old were you when you remember kicking your first soccer ball?
Semerad – I was four years old… really. I remember it because I loved it from day one! Started in the Mom & Pops leagues and was on the same team as my brother.
Candidates.vote – With soccer it seems like as players you never stop moving. It has to be a bit grueling, especially with the length of the games?
Semerad – Yes, there’s lots of running. It’s basically a 90-minute relay race; just running and running with no breaks really.
Candidates.vote – You have a bit of a resume with your soccer career from that four-year old who kicked the ball on the same team as her brother?
Semerad – I did spend two years in Greenville, North Carolina playing for East Carolina University. It was an injury that brought me back to Phoenix and to Arizona State University after I healed. Traded the beautiful mountains of western Carolina and the Outer Banks and tropical beaches to come back to a place I loved just as much and a great experience at ASU.
Candidates.vote — Semerad went on to a post-collegiate professional soccer career playing for Kroko/Dvarsatts IF, in Ostersund, Sweden.
Candidates.vote – We hear the midfielder in you just doesn’t want to retire and you’re doing a bit of coaching in-between political and corporate campaigning?
Semerad – Soccer is always going to be a part of my life. I do some coaching in Tempe and Chandler of 10 and 12 year old youth girls in the classic soccer leagues. The season goes from August to April so we’re just finishing the season now. I’ve been working with three teams and about 30 girls.
Candidates.vote – So this is a question usually gets asked at the beginning of the interview and we see where things go. Are you a burger or cheeseburger kind of person?
Semerad – Definitely cheeseburger. I’m a big cheese gal.
Candidates.vote – Okay, so with your time way up north in Sweden when you were playing professional soccer. Do you think by chance you maybe had a reindeer cheeseburger?
Semerad – (With a surprised tone in her voice) Well, I might have by accident. (Silence on the phone line to the point you could hear the wheels of the brain turning.) Actually, I would guarantee I did; but I can promise! It wasn’t consensual.
Candidates.vote – Not really sure with all the soccer practice and games how you did this, but I understand you found time to get an undergrad in Communications and then a Masters in Liberal Studies. So I have to ask; how’d this soccer player who came home to America from Sweden after a professional stint get involved in politics and corporate branding?
Semerad – Realistically?! It was knowing someone else who I knew, who was involved in it and they asked me to join them. I played soccer at ASU with their daughter.
Candidates.vote – What do you like about it?
Semerad – The eclectic work opportunities that come with it. There’s always something different to look forward to being ready to do. I’m always on my toes and it’s never the same thing each day.
Candidates.vote – Your work with ICANN has involved a lot of international travel, especially in the past year. I know you just got home from Japan but in the last year where have been your favorite places to go?
Semerad – Yes, the ICANN meetings have involved entities from all across the world and our team has done a bit of travel. I have to say South Africa or Puerto Rico. Probably South Africa has been my favorite because when we weren’t in meeting we hiked Lion Head. I really feel in love with the people and place.
Candidates.vote – South Africa and the Cape. Have to ask you if you did any shark watching?
Semerad – No. No shark watching!
Candidates.vote – In history or in the history of your life, who would you say is, or are, your heroes?
Semerad – Not really a single person. My family. My family are my heroes. Family is just who I was. They shaped me. I don’t think in a million years they would have thought I was working in politics like I am. It’s been a bit of a shock to me too!
Candidates.vote – Some people today think of the word “politics” as being bad. What do you say to them?
Semerad – Politics is a gazillion things and ideas. There are so many different views out there other than mine, but I appreciate it. We each need to respect the differences we have because that’s what makes America, America. Because of politics I know people I would have never known in life. What is overwhelming to me is we all get along.
Candidates.vote – Your degree is in Communications. Do you find yourself using the things you learned at ASU in that study?
Semerad – Oh yes. My degree is helpful to me every day. I never really believed I’d be using it as much as I do day-to-day.
Candidates.vote – We’ve heard you recently had a young man come into your life you go home to every night. Someone by the name of Nash?
Semerad – Yes. Nash, my nine month old Golden Retriever puppy. I love coming home to him and his smiling face every day with his wagging tail. Nash brightens my day when I might be low. He’s my shining light.