Photo: Ashville High senior Kathleen McCarthy signed a soccer scholarship with the University of Mobile on March 10. Pictured, sitting, from left: mom Kristi, Kathleen, dad Chris. Standing, from left: AHS athletic director/football coach Shea Monroe, AHS girls soccer coach Holly Smith, AHS girls soccer coach Merrill Smith, Trussville United soccer coach Alan Williamson, AHS track and field/cross country coach Michele Rogers, AHS Principal Janet Johnson. (Courtesy of Becky Staples Photography)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Kathleen McCarthy’s grace under pressure eventually led to her lifelong dream – the opportunity to play college soccer.
While she was visiting the University of Mobile last December, UM women’s head soccer coach Brian Person invited the Ashville High School senior to a scrimmage with the Lady Hawks in order to see if she could hold her own at the collegiate level.
McCarthy’s performance under the microscope, during which she scored a goal, apparently went well, as two days later Persons offered her a scholarship.
“For some reason, I wasn’t nervous at all [about the scrimmage],” she said. “I kind of was when I got there, but when I got on the field, I just played like I normally do. I scored at the beginning [of the scrimmage] and I think that helped me play better the rest of the time.”
McCarthy made it official on March 10, signing with the University of Mobile in a ceremony at the AHS library. She is the first AHS student, male or female, to sign a soccer scholarship.
“I’ve played [soccer] since I was four, and I really never thought that this would happen,” said McCarthy, who plans on majoring in computer science with the intent of becoming a meteorologist. “But I’m glad it did.”
A three-year starter at striker for the Lady Bulldogs, McCarthy was named to both the All-Greater Gadsden Area team and All-St. Clair County team in 2020 and 2021 and was named Ashville’s Offensive MVP last season. She also was the leading scorer for her Trussville United club team last fall.
McCarthy was impressed by Person and the UM campus.
“He’s really friendly, and it wasn’t hard to talk to him at all. I also talked to a few of the girls on the team, and they seemed really nice. The campus is small but it’s very pre-tty.”
McCarthy is a four-sport athlete who is has been a member of the school’s cross country, and outdoor track teams for six years and the indoor track team for three years. She qualified for the state cross country meet for the past five years and was a member of the school’s 4×800-meter relay team that won the gold medal at the AHSAA state track and field meet last May.
“I remember coaching against Kathleen’s teams when she was six and seven, and then I helped coached her when she got to Fusion” said AHS girls soccer coach Merrill Smith. “Kathleen always played up in age bracket playing against better competition, and in my opinion, that’s what she’s where she’s at today. A lot of people play with their skills. Kathleen plays with her heart, and she plays a lot bigger than she is. It’s been an honor to coach her and be a part of her life.”
McCarthy also played varsity volleyball through her junior year and junior varsity basketball through her sophomore year. She played competitive ball with the local Fusion Soccer Club from ages 9 to 13.
“We’re very proud of Kathleen and her accomplishment,” said AHS cross country and track and field coach Michele Rogers. “I’ve had the honor of being her coach since the seventh grade, and we’re excited to see her get to compete at the next level in playing the sport she loves. Her record speaks for itself, and we’re super-proud for her.”