NORTHFIELD, Minn. -- Junior Kyle Kasten wears number 30 for Carleton College’s football team. Junior Luke Reppe wears number 33. The Knights don’t dress anyone in 31 or 32. So on your game day roster you’ll find the pair about a half centimeter apart.
Heading into his sophomore year Kasten had no plans on where to live. When Reppe called Kasten and told him they had five minutes to sign on a room together with one other guy, Kasten sprinted across campus to put his name down. They’ve been roommates ever since. So at night you’ll find the pair about 10 feet apart.
Proximity encompasses much of the friends and teammates’ lives in the fall; between practice, games and living together they’re pretty close a lot of the time. The difference comes in the distance they covered in coming to this common place.
The lone “townie” suited up on any fall Carleton athletic team, Reppe grew up in Northfield. About two blocks from campus in fact. Or somewhere in the neighborhood of about 600 feet away.
Kasten is not from Northfield. He credits his mom with finding Carleton and putting it on his radar, but before that he had never heard of Northfield.
That’s because Kasten grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. About 8,100 miles from campus. Or somewhere in the neighborhood of 42,768,000 feet away.
Coming back home
Football has been a part of Reppe’s life for a long time. This is his 13th year playing, and in high school he suited up for coach Bubba Sullivan at Northfield High School and was an All-Conference selection.
“I’ve had a good time playing football,” he said.
He looked to continue that good time playing Division I football for Northwestern University in Chicago, but things didn’t jive for the Minnesota native. He red shirted that season and soon decided he wanted to get back home.
“I wanted to come back and be near my family. I was home sick,” Reppe said. “Living in Chicago you’ve got fast drivers and mean people. Big talkers. Coming back to Minnesota, to Northfield, it’s just fun to be here and back with my family.”
And back in a comfortable place on the football field.
“I had done a visit to Carleton. I liked everyone I met on the team, liked everyone I met on the coaching staff,” Reppe said. “I just got a really good vibe from everyone, so I decided to come here and play ball. It’s been fun ever since.”
A common thread
While Reppe covered some ground to get back home to his family, Kasten was used to covering ground with his family. Kasten’s dad works for the United Nations. After Kasten was born in Virginia the family moved to Jamaica. Five years later they settled in Kenya, where Kasten grew up and attended the International School of Kenya.
Although he had never played it, Kasten’s favorite sport was football, American style.
“I played [the football video game] Madden a bunch and followed [football] avidly,” Kasten said. “That was a big part of coming to school, making sure I went to a [division three] school there was potential I could play.”
Kasten emailed coach Bob Pagel telling him that, although he had never played before, he wanted to try out.
“He just said, ‘OK,’” Kasten said. “I ended up kicking, mostly because I played soccer in high school.”
So it is that two different men from very different backgrounds ended up in Carleton football pads, sparking a friendship that has stuck.
A Minnesota host
Carleton is well known for attracting students from around the globe, so Reppe stands out among the crowd for his local connections.
“Your teammates kind of rag on you for being a townie,” Reppe said with a smile. “Especially since my house is so close that I can pretty much walk.”
“He does his laundry at home still,” Kasten added.
But for Reppe, it’s all a perfect fit.
“It’s good to be in Northfield, where I’m comfortable, but also to be at a place like Carleton where you meet people from all over the world,” he said.
And for Kasten, it’s a bonus to have a local friend to show him around.
“It’s been fantastic. We went to Defeat of Jesse James Days for the first time this year and he showed me around, what to eat and what not to eat,” Kasten said. “It really has been nice to have someone that knows their way around Minnesota.”
Not that Kasten has too much to be scared of in his new home town.
“Some of my friends from high school make fun of me because I live in the middle of nowhere. But in a way it’s much the same as somewhere like Kenya or Geneva. It’s just as special,” he said. “I spent the summer here in Northfield and had a fantastic time. I love Minnesota. I’ve never met people that are this nice. Ever. Anywhere I’ve traveled. These are absolutely the nicest people ever.”
Kasten’s parents have continued to move, first to Geneva and soon to Paris. His sister just graduated, and Kasten said his mom and dad are enjoying being empty nesters.
“They’re looking forward to moving around a bit more,” he said.
For now, they’ll handle the moves over thousands of miles. Kasten is settled in at Carleton, as is Reppe, where their measurements are no longer in miles, but are boiled down into blocks home, yards on the field, and feet and centimeters apart.