Hoover makes soccer history at Brookhaven

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

National Signing Day was sunny, windy and cold across theMagnolia State as sports fans celebrated the latest crop ofrecruits Wednesday. Football was the major focus of interest butBrookhaven had something special to celebrate, too, despite anabsence of gridiron superstars. Katy Hoover, all 5-foot-2 and 110pounds of her, flashing a beautiful smile, signed a soccerscholarship with Mississippi State University.

It was an historic moment when Hoover signed her name on theofficial papers. She gently clutched an ink pen with fingersappearing more suitable for a piano recital. Aqua-blue nail polishreflected in the florescent light that bounced off the walls of thesmall conference room at BHS.

Family and friends gathered for the event. Nearby, a bouquet offlowers and several helium-filled balloons helped celebrate theoccasion.

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Hoover is the first-ever BHS athlete to sign a soccerscholarship with a Southeastern Conference university. Over theyears there have been many SEC football and basketball scholarshipsearned by Panthers but this was the first soccer deal.

Certainly, Hoover has the academic skills to land even morescholarships in the classroom. A National Honor Society member, shemaintains a 3.92 GPA and ranks 17th in a class of 205 students.

It’s on the soccer field where her tenacious, competitive spiritis starkly visible.

BHS soccer coach Kevin Bower said, “Katy is a hard worker and agood leader. She always encourages her teammates to do theirbest.”

Bower said Hoover can play defense or offense. She plays sweeperand midfield on defense.

“Katy has real good ball-handling skills,” said Bower. “She’s agood passer and she shoots real well from long range.”

She helped lead the Lady Panthers to the Class 4A stateplayoffs.

Hoover said her long-range plans at Mississippi State are toplay soccer, enjoy the college life in Starkville and pursue acareer in some form of engineering.

It’s a dream come true for an 18-year-old teenager but thatachievement didn’t come easily. She and her parents have devotedthousands of hours and driven thousands of miles to improve hersoccer skills.

Soccer is a year-round experience for the family. Their Hondaminivan has over 255,000 miles on the odometer, most of it dealingwith soccer. There are three other vehicles in Alvin and NancyHoover’s family. They have two older children and two daughters atBHS.

“Our family life is formed around our daughters and our soccer,”said Mr. Hoover. His oldest daughter, Christy, just returned from atrip to France.

The family moved to Brookhaven two years ago when he was hiredas CEO at Kings Daughters Medical Center. Soccer already was at theepicenter of their lives before leaving Greenwood, S.C.

Obviously, they focus on their spiritual lives, too. The Rev.Greg Warnock of Brookhaven First Baptist and his wife, Terri, werepresent for the signing. They happily shared the moment.

Currently, Katy plays for the Mandeville (La.) Soccer ClubLakers, a U19 Premier squad. When the high school season isn’tunder way, the Hoovers spend a lot of time on the road, travelingto places like New Orleans, Birmingham, Montgomery, Orlando,Dallas, Houston, Shreveport and Las Vegas, all for the sake ofsoccer.

Practices are twice a week at Mandeville. There is a brief breakin July before club soccer begins anew in August. The demandingschedule tests your love for the game.

“My parents have been very supportive of me,” said Katy, smilingbrightly. Her sister, Amy, is a talented sophomore who also has afuture in college soccer.

Certainly, MSU would like to have Amy on the roster in twoyears. Coach Neil Macdonald’s Lady Bulldogs finished 5-15-0 thisseason. They lost 3-1 to Ole Miss in the Magnolia Cup showdown andwent winless in 11 SEC games.

Macdonald plans to sign 9-10 high school stars as his teamenters a rebuilding mode. Soccer is highly competitive in the SEC,just like football, basketball, baseball and other sports.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILYY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com