Keizer balances soccer, fashion design at California art school

September 27, 2020

Dru Keizer

Dru Keizer of Anchorage comes from a creative household. Her mom is an interior designer and her dad is an architect.

So it figured she would end up at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.

But it wasn’t that simple.

“I took a lot of U-turns to get here,” she said.

Keizer had originally applied at big universities such as Washington State, Hawaii and Montana State. And she wanted to major in pre-med.

More than that, though, she wanted to play soccer in college.

“I have loved soccer for as long as I can remember,” she said.

Then one day her dad suggested Academy of Art University. He also mentioned possibly playing soccer there.

“I was curious but skeptical,” she said. “Are they a real soccer team? Is it a club team?”

The Urban Knights are a NCAA D2 program and play in the Pac West Conference.

Bubbling with excitement, she reached out to the soccer coach at the school and waited for a response. But nobody got back with her for a couple months.

Turns out, the school was going through a coaching change. Eventually, new coach Chris King called Keizer.

“He said, ‘Hey, sorry it’s been a while but we’d love to have you come try out,’” Keizer said.

“I really fell in love with the program.”

Keizer, of Dimond High fame, was a three-time all-league goalkeeper in the Cook Inlet Conference and helped the Lynx win state championships in 2017 and 2016.

At the Academy of Art, Keizer is one of four keepers on the team.

Keizer was a two-time state champion and three-time all-conference pick at Dimond.

“We’re a tight-knit bunch,” she said. “It’s so easy to relate with people here. This is a pretty big athletics program and everyone is really close and understands everything we are going through. It’s connected my artistic side of my brain with the athletic side. It’s such a cool environment.”

She is entering her junior season and her major is Fashion Design.

“I like to say I am one of the least fashionable fashion majors out there,” Keizer said with a laugh.

Keizer, 20, has always been interested in fashion. As a little girl, she made clothes for her toy Barbie with help from her great grandma.

Now she’s applying those skills to real life.

“I want to work with brands like Patagonia or North Face and do athletic wear and outdoor wear because that’s what I grew up wearing and I feel like I have a unique understanding of that.”

This semester Keizer enrolled in her first clothing construction class to bone up on her sewing skills.

“Unfortunately, at this point I don’t have the capability to make my own clothes but it’s something I would love to be able to do,” she said.

Keizer is most interested in taking ideas from the runway and translating them into clothes everyday people could wear. Each piece has to be unique yet still appeal to the masses.

“I’m creating all the time,” she said. “Every week we have a project and I get to be creative. The classes are what you make them.”

The grading scale is subjective.

“There is no right answer to our homework 90 percent of the time,” she said. “You could go by the same guidelines but everybody’s work will look so different.”

Still, there is criticism and scrutiny.

That’s why it’s important for a designer to have a clear vision. And a thick skin.

“It’s so nerve wrecking,” she said. “Art work is so personal.”

The competition between designers on campus is tough, but it’s not ruthless like with sports.

“Obviously everybody wants to be the best of the best, but you have to think of them as your teammates because they are people you might work with later in the industry,” she said. “You can’t be as cutthroat as much as maybe you want to be because the person you are competing against might be the person sitting across from you in a job interview one day.”