Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Earlier this week, a Rainbow City resident was recognized as the cream of the crop among the state’s senior student-athletes.
Ashville High School’s Meghan McCarthy (pictured above) iss the female winner for the 2020 Alabama Wendy’s Heisman High School Scholarship. She and Briarwood Christian’s Tyler Waugh, who earned the award for male athlete, were chosen from school winners across the state and will be eligible for the South region top athletes. Male and female athletes from each of six districts comprise the 12 national finalists, which will be announced Nov. 9.
According to a press release, the Heisman High School Scholarship “extends the Heisman prestige to the nation’s most esteemed male and female high school seniors by recognizing and rewarding outstanding scholar-athletes who understand that the most important victories not only happen on the field, but in their schools and communities.”
McCarthy is a six-year starter in cross country and outdoor track, a three-year starter in basketball and a two-year starter in soccer. She played varsity volleyball as a sophomore and junior before deciding to focus on long distance running this fall.
Academically, McCarthy is an Advanced Placement student who maintains a 4.3 grade point average and scored a 29 on her latest ACT composite exam. She currently is ranked fourth in her class.
Among McCarthy’s extra-curricular involvements are Student Government Association, 2017-present; National Honors Society, 2017-present; Bulldog Ambassador, 2017-present; Senior Beta Club, 2017-present; Mu Alpha Theta, 2017-present; First Priority, 2017-present; Youth Leadership Development Program for 2020-2021; St. Clair County Schools leadership team, 2018-present; 2020 JSU Emerging Leader; 2020 Girls State; Class Secretary, freshman-senior year; and 2020 Ashville High School Homecoming Queen.
Her community service activities include Operation Christmas Child; ringing the Salvation Army Bell at Christmas; participating in the Bulldog Dash 5K to raise money for the school’s track and cross country programs; and participating the school’s canned food drive. She also refereed youth soccer games with the Coosa/YMCA soccer league.
“You really have to have good time management,” said McCarthy of the pressure of maintaining high marks in the classroom while adhering to the commitment of a five-sport athlete. “There have been a lot of nights when I stayed up way too late to get my schoolwork done because I got home late from a practice or a game. But even though it’s hard doing so many things at once, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
McCarthy was appreciative of her teachers and coaches for making accommodations for her busy athletic schedule.
“There are so many days when I got done with cross country or track practice and literally ran to volleyball, basketball or soccer practice. The teachers re-scheduled tests, which was very considerate because they are AP courses and are very hard. [AHS cross country and track & field coach [Michele] Rogers, [AHS volleyball] coach [Mara] Mattison and [AHS girls basketball] coaches [Meghan] Duren and [Richard] Waid are all great at allowing us more time to get to practice and letting us leave early when we have to.”
This past spring when the COVID virus was taking its toll on the less fortunate, McCarthy envisioned and helped organize the Miles for Meals fundraiser, a run-a-thon to raise money and buy groceries for needy families in the community who need food. She and her fellow AHS track and field team members raised over $2,500 to purchase food for local families.
“Meghan is one of the hardest working individuals I know,” said Rogers. “Whatever she does, she puts her whole heart in it. Her dedication, drive and humble attitude will take her far in whatever she chooses to do with her future.”
Despite her tight schedule, McCarthy owns and operates her own business, Meg’s Hand-lettering, where she creates and sells personalized hand-lettered wooden signs.
“You couldn’t ask for a better kid,” said AHS athletic director Shea Monroe. “Everything Meghan does, she gives it 100 percent. I’m glad she’s an Ashville Bulldog, because she represents our school very well.”
McCarthy has been accepted to Jacksonville State, West Alabama, South Alabama, North Alabama and Wallace State-Hanceville. She currently is leaning toward the latter two schools because she will have the opportunity to compete in cross country and outdoor track.
“It still really hasn’t hit me yet that I was chosen out of hundreds of athletes from Alabama who applied [for the scholarship],” she said. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s very rewarding after all the hard work I put in.”
This article was supplemented by al.com