Men’s Soccer: Why I Play: Bardia Kimiavi talks Northwestern career, future plans


Daily file photo by Katie Chen

Graduate student midfielder Bardia Kimiavi.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

After five years and 65 starts, graduate student midfielder Bardia Kimiavi’s career at Northwestern has come to an end. The Virginia native bagged eight goals and added nine assists in his time with the Wildcats, including three goal contributions in 2022. Kimiavi has been a regular fixture in NU starting lineups across two different coaching staffs. 

His love for soccer began far before his time at Martin Stadium, though. Kimiavi was born in Iran, where he said “soccer heritage runs very deep.” He began playing in organized leagues soon after moving to the United States at one-and-a-half years old and hasn’t stopped since. 

The Daily spoke to Kimiavi about his love for the game, his time at NU and what the future may hold after he graduates. 

“Why I Play” is a Q&A series where Wildcats discuss their love for their sports and how they got their starts. This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: What was your recruiting journey like, and what made Northwestern the right fit?

Kimiavi: I ended up committing to Northwestern in May of my junior year. I was deciding between Northwestern and Stanford at the end. The first (reason I chose NU) was the proximity to home. The second (reason) being Chicago is so close, and Stanford is beautiful, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. I love that here, you have a campus feel, but then anytime you want, you can go to Chicago. 

The third was that I wanted to go somewhere where I felt I could make an immediate impact and one that lasted throughout my time there. Stanford at the time was (coming off) back-to-back-to-back national championships. I felt I would kind of be a product of what the people before me created. I wanted to go somewhere where I felt I could help build that foundation. And so, obviously, the results weren’t super favorable all the time, but I wouldn’t say I have any regrets coming here.

The Daily: It was a roller coaster of a season, but are there any moments that stand out now that it’s over?

Kimiavi: We had a players’ meeting after the Western Michigan game. We were coming off a 4-0 loss to Villanova and then a 3-0 loss to Western Michigan. And, at some point, you’ve got to put your foot down and be like, ‘Enough is enough.’ I was telling the guys in that meeting, ‘On paper, this is the most talented team we’ve had since I’ve been here, but it’s the worst start that we’ve had, so something’s clearly not clicking.’ 

Coach (Payne) says it all the time, and it sounds cliche, but it really does take 29 guys to produce a championship caliber team. Whether you’re playing or not, you’re helping the guys in training or you’re supporting from the bench, and once everybody really bought into that, then we started playing better, (and) some more results started coming our way.

The Daily: After five years, what’s something you’ll look back on and remember forever from your time at NU?

Kimiavi: My sophomore year, we went to Maryland, and they were coming off a national title. Ludwig Field over there is probably one of the best atmospheres to play in in college soccer. You’re gonna hear (the fans), you’re gonna feel them. I think I ended up scoring in like the first five minutes, (but) they got an equalizer in the first half. We ended up scoring two more in the second half to make it 3-1. Maryland is the closest game that we play to my home, so just having my whole family there — the little Persian hype squad in the stands in a sea of red — (was awesome). 

The Daily: What are your post-grad plans?

Kimiavi: My dream has always been to continue playing. The MLS and USL preseasons start up typically around February (and) March, so I’m planning on trying to explore those international opportunities before that, probably starting around January. If nothing works out overseas, then I’ll give it a crack here with some of the MLS, USL clubs. Then (if) worst comes to worst, if I can’t find a fit that I like, my aspirations definitely are to stay within the sports industry. But if I could paint my ideal life, it would be to play for as long as I can and then coach for as long as I can.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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