September 24, 2007

Up Close & Personal with Lauren McLelland

BANNER ELK, NC--Join us as we interview another sophomore from a young Lady Bobcats team. This midfielder/defender, who already has a goal to her name this year, comes to LMC from Salisbury, NC.

1. What made you decide to come to Lees-McRae? I personally chose Lees-McRae because of the size, scenery, and academic programs. I was looking for a small school with a Pre-Health program. A lot of factors played into my choosing Lees-McRae in the end. After talking to Coach Lopez and visiting campus, I fell in love with the place. I have always been a fan of the mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a frequent vacation spot for my family. Ever since I was little, my mom would take me and my brother and sister to Grandfather and other surrounding areas such as the Ashe County Cheese factory. We would go to the New River for canoeing in the summer, and then we'd always go to Jefferson to cut down our family Christmas tree each year. It was just always a great place to be, any time of the year. The players and students that I hung out with on my recruiting trip also sealed the deal. I realized how nice everyone was and that there was still alot of diversity even in such a small school and town. Simply put, I fell in love with the place.

2. What are your personal goals for this season? Not get sick!!! Seriously, I want to increase my speed of play and just be as comfortable as possible on the ball. Of course I'd like to have a good connection with all of the players and all of the incoming freshmen and just stay very positive throughout the season.

3. What's your favorite Bobcat memory here at Lees-McRae so far? Team related; I'd have to say going to Elk Falls with the girls. The pre-season trip was great (Ashley falling into the water) but all of the other trips were just as memorable. The last one of the year especially (all of us jumping off the water fall.) Non-team related; taking my parents up to Beacon Heights. It's such a beautiful place and not many people know about it so I always feel so secluded.

4. What is your favorite part of playing soccer here at Lees-McRae? I just love feeling like a part of something that I know is so big. Being a part of this team is like being a part of a really big, estrogen-filled, family. It's just so awesome to know that you have twenty girls that are always going to have your back when you're going through a rough time, and trust me, I needed every single one of them this past year at one point or another, on or off the field. I always felt comfortable going to any of them for a shoulder to lean on, advice, or just someone to talk to, or hang out with at one o'clock in the morning when no one else was awake. It just means alot to have such a strong connection with everyone and honestly, if I wasn't a part of this team, I probably wouldn't have come back after the first part of the year. These girls keep me going.

5. Who has had has the most influence on your athletic career? I don't know if I could chose just one person; it would have to be my whole family. They may not have made it to every game growing up, but when they did, it was something special. It always feels good to be recognized for something. You know, going to a family reunion or over-hearing your mom or brother or sister talking about you to one of thier friends and you hear them say, "Yeah, this is my daughter, Lauren, she played soccer at East and now she's going to Lees-McRae, she plays up there." or "Yeah, my little sister plays soccer in college." It just feels great to be known for something that you love, that's the first thing that people think about when they think about you, is that you play a sport or you're going to school. And it's a big deal. My family has always made it a big deal because they understand the time and energy that I put into it. So, yeah, all of my family has influenced me to chase my dreams and be all that I can be. And no matter how bad of a day you've had, hearing the words, "I'm proud of you." always, always makes you smile. I'm just thankful to have such a supporting family . They've made me who I am, so I have all of them to thank.

6. If you weren't playing soccer, what other sport would you play? I'm not really sure. I had a lot of interests growing up. I really liked softball when I was younger but didn't realize I was a left-handed thrower until about middle school and by that time I had already discovered my passion for soccer and the seasons ran together so I never pursued it. I enjoyed running cross country, football, and swimming in high school, I participated in all three at some point but always focused on soccer.

7. What is your major and what do you plan to do with your degree? I'm a Pre-Health major, and still 'iffy' about Sports Medicine. I plan to get a Doctorate in Physical Therapy after Lees-McRae. I haven't decided where I'm going to go for graduate school but I still have a few years to decide. I am also considering the military to help my pay for graduate school. I have always been interested in the Coast Guard but am starting to consider the Navy for educational reasons. I'm not positive on anything except Physical Therapy.

8. If you could travel back in time to any point in history, where would you go? If I could travel back in time to any point in history, I would probably go back to when yahoo was invented and put all of my stock in it.

9. What is your favorite band? Green Day

10. What is your favorite book? The Color Purple and From Baghdad, With Love are my favorite books.

11. If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be? I would love to visit Ireland.

12. What is one word that describes you and why? Just one?... Caring. I care a lot about my friends and family. I would do just about anything for anyone. The thing that gives me the most pleasure is making other people happy or helping other people. I'd do just about anything to put a smile on your face, because that's what makes me happy... when everyone around me is happy.

Lauren's Story… I was born in Statesville, which is only a little over an hour from the school. My whole family lives in Statesville and my grandmother used to live in Cherokee so I have always been around the mountains. I moved to Salisbury in first grade and quickly realized that there wasn't much of a difference in Northern Iredell County and Eastern Rowan County. They were both small, each citizen had the same back-country accent and used phrases such as, "hey ya'll," "over yonder," and "back that-a-way." The scenery had changed a little, we had moved from a brick house on a bare, flat piece of land, with a pond out back to a log cabin on hill by a lake. I didn't have a lot of friends coming through school, just a few close ones that lived close by, the other kids' parents didn't want to drive them all the way back to my house to hand off and mom always worked swing shifts so it was hard for her to take me to places.

I discovered soccer in about third grade with the influence of my good friend Laurel. Her mother had put her into a program because she lived right beside the soccer fields at Catawba College. I quickly grew to love the sport and put most of my focus into playing year round. I had to make a very hard decision the end of my freshman year in high school. I had started the ROTC program the summer before and was excelling in every team that I participated in through ROTC. I was active in Rifle Team, Drill Team, Color Guard, Scuba, and Raider Team and had the highest honors as a freshman cadet. I loved ROTC but was uncertain on making a career out of it. I was faced with the choice of continuing ROTC and giving up all other sports for the sake of focus and a promise of a scholarship to Clemson if I met the right requirements or I could continue playing sports and join the Health Academy program at school in place of ROTC which would give me a better knowledge of my field if I were to go to school for Physical Therapy. Painfully, I chose to pursue the Health Academy program and said goodbye to ROTC.

I eventually had to get a job once I got my license and, therefore, had to give up two sports, swimming and cross country my junior year. It was hard to give up these important parts of my life but in the end I think it was the best decision I could have made because putting all of my focus on soccer and academics led me to explore a variety of different colleges. Although I looked through a lot of brochures and catalogs at all of the different colleges in North Carolina and the surrounding states, even a few wild cards out west and up north, my mind was made up the moment I stepped foot on Lees-McRae campus. I just got that feeling of "this is where I'm suppose to be, I could spend the next four or five years of my life here."