By Sam Loveys
There probably aren’t many who know every dip, turn and bump on Highway 17 east of Ottawa better than Mackenzie Curran. Except maybe her parents.
Just about every day for her whole career in high school, Curran would travel an hour from École secondaire publique Le Sommet to practice with Ottawa TFC Soccer Club in Orleans, and then an hour back home to Hawkesbury.
Rather than treating that as an obstacle, she used it as fuel.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” reflects Curran, who started playing soccer at age seven and got serious about the sport when she joined Ottawa TFC to play Ontario Player Development League soccer at 14.
“Everyone else has a five-minute commute, so I want to show that I can maintain this level of play despite my challenges.”
Playing in the OPDL is a massive time commitment on its own, but it didn’t stop Curran from playing plenty more sports at school.
“I do pretty much all the sports they offer. This year, I did basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball,” recounts Le Sommet’s MVP for basketball, soccer and softball, and the school’s senior female athlete of the year. “I always give 110%.”
Along with her athletic prowess, Curran excelled in academics and was selected as one of Le Sommet’s valedictorians. Throughout high school, she completed numerous International Baccalaureate courses – a rigorous program meant to challenge intelligent students.
Though she “procrastinated a lot,” Curran says the key to managing all her demands was “a lot of planning and just knowing when you have to get it done.”
Despite all the honours Curran earned this spring, the prize she perhaps treasures most was the one she won with her soccer club in the fall of 2011. Curran served as a dependable defender for Ottawa TFC’s undefeated OPDL under-17 girls’ champion team, which gave up just six goals in 15 games en route to the league title.
She remembers teamwork and unity were pillars to the team’s success, and she’ll never forget the end-of-season OPDL Charity Shield final in particular, when Ottawa TFC faced an opponent they’d never beaten before, Markham. Ottawa TFC’s call-ups were unable to play, a key player popped a tire on the way to the game, and their opponents were just a short commute away from the championship game site.
“We faced a lot of adversity, but as soon as that first whistle sounded, everyone was calm,” recalls Curran, whose team wound up winning 3-1. “I remember the final whistle, I turned around and ran to my goalkeeper, like, ‘Ahh!”
After spending a good chunk of her last four years an hour west of Hawkesbury in Ottawa’s east end, Curran will now spend her next four years an hour east of home.
The future Concordia University student will soon begin studying mechanical engineering, with an eye on becoming a biomedical engineer to “leave a positive impact on the world,” outlines Curran, who also dreams of playing professional Ligue 1 soccer in France.
You can bet that Curran’s parents will soon get to know every dip, turn and pothole on their way to watching their daughter play for the Stingers in Montreal.
“I want to thank them,” Curran underlines. “They sacrificed so much for me by driving me to training every day.”
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