Kai Hagedorn views all aspects of life as an adventure


Since senior Kai Hagedorn was born, he has been constantly on the move, driven by a passion to experience every available adventure. He finds himself most at home in the outdoors and in places he loves, choosing to takes the time to explore all that he can. Whether it be in places he’s lived, traveled to, or adventures thought up in his mind, they all hold a special place in his heart.

“I just always look,” Kai said, expressing his love for taking in the world around him. “I always love, whenever I’m going on hikes, just looking out at the landscape or [anything like] that. I just really appreciate seeing that.”

This past summer, Kai was able to take a trip to Isle Royale, an island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Over the course of the trip, he camped and hiked fifteen miles each day, roughing it in the wilderness with someone who doubles as both his adventure buddy and one of his best friends: his father.

“[My dad and I] have a close connection, especially because of soccer, hiking, and [the] outdoors,” Kai said. “That trip was really good because we could really connect. We didn’t see anyone that entire trip until the last day or so. [It was] just us two, so we could have good conversations and do what we both love doing. It was just a really good time because then we could both do it together.”

This trip was not only an opportunity to deepen his relationship with his father but also to help him discover himself. Through the cold 40-degree nights and the ruthless daytime heat, Kai was able to unearth just how resilient he can be.

“I can really do a lot more by myself, and there are just a lot more things that I’ve learned through that trip,” Kai said. “I could do more than what I thought I could.”

Even through his self-discovery, though, he wasn’t alone on this journey because he had his father to aid him in his trails.

The bond they share began at a young age and then grew from there. In fact, Kai attributes most of his passions to his father, which can be seen in Kai’s love for soccer that began when he simply started playing outside with his dad. What started as a hobby swiftly turned into something Kai identifies himself with today.

“My dad [has] always been showing me the way and just showing me [that] soccer is really fun and just a bunch of good stuff like that,” Kai said. “[Soccer has] always been in my family, and we’ve always all played it. Growing up [and] kicking a ball around at a young age– it’s always been something that I can look to do or have a hobby in, and I just really enjoy it.”

Today, Kai is the captain of both the soccer team for school and the club he is a part of. However, while Kai has worked diligently to get to this point in his soccer career, he said that it is sadly “time to hang up the boots.”

While Kai has decided not to continue with soccer in college, he still looks back fondly on the memories he has shared with the team.

“The practices are what I’m going to remember the most,” Kai said, “[where we were] just having a lot of fun but still getting the job done. This year, being a senior was really fun seeing–as like as cliche as it sounds–[the team become a] family and really helping out the underclassmen come closer together.”

Being able to aid those who were new to the team was something that was important to Kai, which may have to do with the fact that at the beginning of freshman year, Kai himself was that new kid.  

Before he moved to GR, Kai lived in Holland, MI. Kai describes his town as a place where everyone knows everyone, and while this wasn’t something he considered bad, he simply craved that new adventure.

So, after his dad moved to GR for his job, Kai was again inspired by him to move with him and broaden his horizon with new opportunities.

“I just thought that Grand Rapids was the next move for me,” Kai said, “and I thought it would be something better academically and better for [soccer opportunities]. It was a good fit because my cousins also go here, so it was just a good next move for me.”

Even though it was the right move, transitioning from schools, especially for freshman year, can be extremely difficult. Even though Kai had lost his friends from his old school, he was able to discover a little bit more of who he wanted to be and who he already was.

Kai soon discovered that, similarly to his trip on Isle Royale, the journey toward self-discovery would be much longer than he expected, and he was just as unprepared.

“Freshman is always the weird year,” Kai said. “I was really just trying to figure things out because I didn’t know. The only people I knew were my cousins, and that was really it. Now, I am way more comfortable with liking what I like and just doing me. I’m doing what I wanted.”

While his high school career may be nearing its end, Kai’s journey is not quite over, as he will continue on to college where he will pursue something with just as much adventure and hands-on activities.

Even after Kai moves on from high school and onto his own adventures, he will continue to hold his spontaneous outlook on life and his desire to discover new things.

“I remember my first football game. I think I went to one like my freshman year, and I was petrified because I didn’t know anyone,” Kai said. “Now, senior year, I’ve tried new things. [I want to] try and get the full senior year experience of doing everything I possibly can and savoring it all before I go.”