USA TODAY High School Sports is featuring the 12 athletes in the running for the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year, which will be announced July 16 in Los Angeles. Today's spotlight: Morgan Andrews (girls soccer).
Morgan Andrews believes hard work wins games. Apparently, it helps wins major awards too.
The recent graduate from Milford High School (Milford, N.H.), has a formidable work ethic — both on and off the field. And in addition to leading her high school team, the Spartans, to the Division II girls soccer championship last year, she has captained the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Women’s National Team. Andrews has also been selected as Gatorade’s New Hampshire Girls Soccer Player of the Year three times in a row — and is now a two-time winner of the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year award, and is one of 12 finalists for the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year award.
Did we mention that she maintained a 3.13 grade-point average, coached a youth soccer league, and ran her own charity as well?
MORE WITH GATORADE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS:
Max Browne (football)
Lauren Carlini (volleyball)
Sarah Baxter (girls cross country)
Andrew Wiggins (boys basketball)
Mercedes Russell (girls basketball)
Carley Hoover (softball)
USA TODAY High School Sports caught up with the enterprising Andrews, currently at training camp in Portland, Ore., to talk about soccer, Al Pacino, and what lies ahead.
You were recently awarded your second Gatorade National High School Player of the Year award, a first for any soccer player, male or female. Gotta ask: How does that feel?
Andrews: I just feel really thankful and really blessed for the opportunity. It gives me the opportunity to represent my sport and to represent my town and I'm really thankful for that.
Do you think this says anything about female soccer players?
Andrews: You know, I think that it's a great representative of women's sports in general. It's just a really great opportunity for the sport. Obviously, women's soccer is growing in America and this only helps it. I'm glad I could be a part of it.
Who are some of your soccer idols? What makes them stand out?
Andrews: The whole women's national team – the World Cup team. There are standouts like Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach. I look up to them so much, and I hope to embody their hard work and their determination. But my favorite all-time player would be Michelle Akers. She's an old-school player and what I admire most was how hard she worked. I'd like to be like her.
What do you consider the most important skill for the game?
Andrews: I think that technical skills are a huge part of the game; [they] help define what kind of player you are. But work ethic is what wins games. And the people who work the hardest and who never give up are the people who are going to be successful.
Any quirky pre-game rituals?
Andrews: [Laughs] Oh, definitely. I have the classic rituals, like always putting your right [shoe] on before your left, always taking off the jewelry. And I listen to that "Any Given Sunday" speech by Al Pacino … just before a game. It gets me so pumped up and ready to play.
What do you do to get in the zone?
Andrews: I actually always have to take a shower. That's kind of like my zone. It relaxes me and helps me focus. It helps me visualize what I'm supposed to do on the field.
We understand you also do a lot of volunteer work. Tell us about what has you fired up lately.
Andrews: My community is really big into giving back and helping out everyone in the community. That's what I like [about] growing up in a small town, they teach you that from the beginning. Right now, I'm working on making my charity a non-profit organization. It's called Kicks for Cans. We run a two- to three-hour clinic for kids, about 14 and under. It doesn't cost anything; they just have to bring a canned good and then we bring that to the local food pantry, SHARE. Hopefully I can make that bigger. Actually, Notre Dame said I could bring my charity with me to the campus. So hopefully we can do something there.
You'll be headed to Notre Dame as a college freshman this fall. Looking back, anything you're going to miss about your hometown and high school soccer?
Andrews: Like I said, I wouldn't want to grow up anywhere different than where I have. Milford has been so good to me. So I'm definitely going to miss the people who have surrounded me, but I know those connections won't be lost. I'm going to miss playing with the girls, and playing all different sports. It helped me become the person I am today. I think I'll always have Milford in my heart. I'll miss it, but I'm ready to move on.
What are you most looking forward to?
Andrews: I'm looking forward to going to Notre Dame and helping to improve the team. I know that I'm going to become a better player and a better person by going to the university. I'm really excited to win a couple – hopefully four – national championships. And I'm looking forward to the education. Kind of the best of both worlds at Notre Dame.
What are your academic plans, or is it all pro from here?
Andrews: Well the first year, since it's a Catholic University, we have to study general education. And I'm excited about that. But I plan on majoring in film, television and theater and then minoring in journalism and photography. I'm really into photography; that's kind of like my hobby. I would really like to be a sports reporter. I just think that's the coolest job.
What advice would you give to yourself as an incoming high school freshman?
Andrews: Oh, that's a hard one. There's so much to say. I think a big part, both on the academic side and on the athletic side, is working as hard as you possibly can and pushing yourself to be the best you can. Because if you don't go out 100 percent, you're not going to know what you could have done. A big quote that I used – I forget what it's from – said: "You'll pass out before you die." [That] was a huge quote that our team embodied. I thought it stood for: You work as hard as you possibly can and if you pass out, you know, your teammates are going to carry you off the field. So give everything in everything that you do.