Hoover signs with Miss. State

Published 6:19 pm Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brookhaven forward/midfielder Amy Hoover will be reunited withher older sister, Katy, this summer when the Mississippi StateUniversity Lady Bulldogs begin preseason soccer practice. Amysigned a scholarship Wednesday with the MSU soccer program.

“I look forward to playing at State and being on my sister’s team,”said Hoover. “It’s been fun playing for Brookhaven and I have a lotof friends here.”

It’s been an unusual and challenging high school soccer season forthe younger Hoover. She played on the Alabama Olympic Developmentteam last summer and traveled to Argentina for a series of games.BHS began preseason soccer practice in October.

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A life-changing experience challenged Hoover in November when shewas diagnosed with cancer in her thyroid gland. She was scheduledfor surgery at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. On Dec. 17, a1-centimeter area was removed from her throat, plus nine lymphnodes that tested positive for cancer.

Hoover surprised all the experts with her rapid recovery. Mostadults require months to regain their strength. On Jan. 4, Hooversuited up and played against Wesson.

She wound up scoring 37 goals this season, second best in Class 5A,and helping the Lady Panthers to the state playoffs. They wereeliminated in the first round by Picayune in an exhausting,2-overtime, 2-sudden death, shootout on a cold, rain-soaked, muddyfield.

Hoover ended her 2 1/2-year career at BHS with a school-record 80goals.

“Amy has been a very valuable asset to our team,” said BHS coachKevin Bower. “She is fast and has a nose for the goal.”

Bower and his players voiced numerous prayers as Hoover approachedher surgery. Her church family also covered the period withprayer.

Hoover’s parents, Alvin and Nancy, provided plenty of support.Their entire family drew closer together prior to the surgery. Heroldest sister, Christy, had been diagnosed with a thyroid conditionand her doctor had suggested that other family members be tested asa safeguard.

Amy smiled and her blue eyes sparkled as she recalled herpre-school years playing recreation soccer with Katy. She startedat the age of 4 when Katy joined a rec league as a6-year-old.

“We played together five years in rec ball when we were reallyyoung,” said Amy. “Then we were on a select team together,” playingfor the Mandeville (La.) Lakers.

“I remember when Nancy signed Katy up for AYSA (American YouthSoccer Association),” said Alvin Hoover. “Amy pitched a fit to playso we filled out the form. She was six months too young.”

Her father recalled a conversation Amy had with her Argentinesoccer coach last summer. “He told the girls, ‘You have to playsoccer with passion and have Jesus in your heart.'”

Amy still plays for the Mandeville squad that travels all over thesoutheast on weekends and during the summer. The family’s HondaOdyssey van has amassed 320,000 miles traveling from one soccermatch to another.

Now the family can converge on Starkville and watch both daughtersplay. Katy is pursuing a career in electrical engineering. Amy isan honor roll student but is undecided on her major.

Neil MacDonald coaches the Lady Bulldogs. He said he was happy tohave another Hoover coming to Starkville. “We are delighted to haveAmy join our Bulldog family. She is a player with a bright futurewho plays the game with great passion. She has an exceptional workethic and her ability to score inside the 18-yard box will make hera great addition to our front line.”

MacDonald’s team posted an 8-12 overall record and finished 1-10 inthe Southeastern Conference last season. They beat Ole Miss 1-0 inthe soccer version of the Egg Bowl.