February 15, 2014 11:24:01 PM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Megan Moorhead always thought she could hang with everybody on the soccer field.
After all, as a seventh-grader Moorhead earned playing time on the Starkville High School girls varsity team. Since then, she showcased her knowledge of the game and her versatility by carving out a place as a fixture in the program.
It wasn't until Moorhead attended a soccer camp at the University of Texas in the summer between her sophomore and juniors years that she realized how far she still had to go.
"That was always my dream to play for Texas," Moorhead said. "I went to a soccer camp and that was where I was like, 'OK, I am not a Division I athlete.' "
Moorhead's experience at the camp in Austin, Texas, only strengthened her resolve and motivated her to work harder to make up for what she feels is her lack of athletic ability. That hard work paid off Friday, as Moorhead took another step to becoming a Division I player by signing a National Letter of Intent to play soccer at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
"I do work really hard and I am determined," Moorhead said. "I do have a really hard work ethic, so I try to make up for my lack of athletic ability with my work ethic and my determination."
Moorhead said the lessons she learned at the soccer camp motivated her even after she injured her knee last season. Following the injury, she admitted she thought she had lost an opportunity to continue to play the sport she started playing when she was 3 years old in college. But Moorhead recovered from the injury and realized she still wanted to play at the next level, so she set out to make it happen. Moorhead accomplished her goal even though she might not give herself the benefit of the doubt. She acknowledges she can self-depreciating when it comes to appraising her level of athletic ability. Compared to players like Mississippi State signee McKenzie Adams, who Moorhead has played against, Moorhead said she falls short, but that doesn't mean she is going to stop working to try to make up that ground between the players.
"I wasn't really given athletic ability, but I am a smarter person, so I can kind of see what is going to happen next and try to anticipate what they're going to do to be able to play all of those positions," Moorhead said.
Starkville High School coach Anna Albritton can attest to Moorhead's work ethic and her tenacity. She used those skills to the Lady Yellow Jackets' advantage by playing Moorhead all over the field like a "utility player." While she understands that term might be best served to describe a baseball player who can play multiple positions, it is equally fitting for Moorhead, who has played goalkeeper, in the back, in the middle, and up top.
"I wish I had an entire team of Megan Moorheads," Albritton said. "Not only that, as she has matured she has become a leader. You could always see Megan helping pick up equipment, loading equipment, unloading equipment. That is just what she brought to the team. Being able to call on the kid at anytime and say, 'Megan, go here and play this.' She never questioned it and just went in there and did it."
Albritton said it is unusual to have players who can transition from position to position as seamlessly as Moorhead has in her career. She said she stepped in and played goalkeeper when Camryn had an injury, and used her knowledge of the game and her versatility to adjust each time she moved to a different position.
"She is a smart player," Albritton said. "She understands what needs to be done and how to do it. It is everything, and she works hard. She has had some injuries and she has had to overcome those, but she has worked really hard."
Moorhead smiles when she talks about playing at least five minutes at each position on the field each of the past four seasons. She said she feels equally comfortable at every position, except center defender.
"My coaches trust me, but I don't have that trust in myself," Moorhead said.
Aside from that position, Moorhead is just as confident as a goalkeeper as she would be if she was playing left or right midfielder, two of her primary positions. This season, injuries forced Moorhead into action as a goalkeeper and as a defender, if only for a short time. Still, she used her drive to improve as a player to make sure she knew what she was doing and helped the team wherever she was on the field. She hopes to use her time at ICC to grow as a player so she can continue her soccer career at a four-year school. Only then might Moorhead consider she has a little more athletic ability than she realizes.
"Her work ethic is wonderful," Albritton said. "You can always count on her. I think ICC is getting a gem with Megan with her work ethic, her knowledge, and her intelligence."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.