By Ali Fenwick
December 09, 2014

Check back here each month for more stories of student-athletes who display strength and character on and off the field. To nominate a candidate, fill out the form at bottom.

On an unseasonably warm Sunday last month in Freemont, N.H., 22 teenaged girls took their positions on a pristine turf soccer field surrounded by tall pines and a copse of white birch trees straight out of a Robert Frost poem. The girls were playing in the top division of the U.S. Soccer Federation-affiliated New England Premiership club league, at a showcase scrimmage for a handful of college coaches in the stands. The whistle blew, and Kate Marshall, the center midfielder in the powder blue Seacoast United uniform, was off — a blur of rosy cheeks and blond hair, her ponytail whipping as she ran up and down the field. The 15-year-old from York, Maine, looked like any other athlete out there and played better than most, sprinting all-out down the sideline to launch a cross in front of the goal, crashing without restraint to the ground in a race to win a loose ball and patrolling the center of the pitch like a cop on the beat, taking her time to read the field and dish out pass after pass to her teammates while pouncing on opponents and stealing possession at a moment’s hesitation.

Of course Kate isn’t like any other athlete out there. She was the first to the huddle at halftime and the only one to trot back to the goal and fist-bump the keeper at the game-ending whistle. She was also the only one out there going all out on 90-percent lung capacity, a result of the genetic disease cystic fibrosis.

Kate wasn’t asking for pity, or coddling or special attention. In fact, she rarely ever talks about the insidious, life-threatening condition she was born with. But in her own quiet way on the field that day she was shouting to an unseen opponent: You’ll never beat me. I’m going to work twice as hard and be twice as good. I’ll show you.

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A sophomore at York High, a small high school of about 700 students located three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and a 10-minute drive from the border of live-free-or-die New Hampshire, Kate plays soccer and lacrosse for the Wildcats and competes year-round for her club soccer team. This fall, she earned a starting position at center midfielder for York’s varsity squad after playing jayvee last year and was selected by coach Walter Caldwell for the team’s Most Improved award, based on a laundry list of qualities including, what he called, her “consistency, grit and humility.”

Kate has a 3.30 grade point average, works a summer job at a beachside snack bar, coaches youth soccer in the fall, has a boyfriend on the football team, follows Beyoncé on Instagram, and is learning to drive. (Have her tell you the proper way to hit a moose that steps into the path of your car, required knowledge to pass the driver’s test in Maine).

Courtesy of the Marshall family
High School
Mater Dei's Malik McMorris named SI's High School Athlete of the Month
Ali Fenwick/SI
Courtesy of the Marshall family
High School
Adamson's Josh Derrough-Harvey is SI's High School Athlete of the Month

She is. Stronger, even.

[form:aotm]

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