Melissa McCool’s friends and fans call her “Too Cool McCool.”
In 10 years, they just might call her Dr. McCool.
McCool is a senior at Wando High School, and is the epitome of what a student-athlete should be.
She’s been a four-year starter for the ultra-successful Warriors soccer team, and is so talented that she’s been selected to play in the Clash of the Carolinas, an event that showcases the top seniors from South Carolina vs. their counterparts from North Carolina.
In the classroom, it’s more of the same. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and has a 4.457 GPA, taking honors and AP classes. She’s ranked No. 59 out of 810 in the senior class, and will attend Clemson. She will take a pre-med track.
And if she becomes a doctor, that career path will be a result of soccer.
She’s suffered the aches and pains, the bumps and bruises of playing the contact sport. Her injuries got her thinking of a career in physical therapy.
“It seemed like I was always getting treated,” said McCool, who will take the field tonight when the Warriors host South Aiken in a Class AAAA Lower State semifinal match. “I really became interested in medicine. I did an internship at East Cooper hospital and it made me realize there was more than physical therapy. There was the ER, the OR. I was fascinated.”
She contemplated attending the University of South Carolina, but Clemson won out because it seemed like more of a natural fit. She won’t play soccer in college, but she had a chance. She was recruited by 10 schools that wanted her to play, including Furman, UNC Greensboro, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian.
She knows her soccer days are numbered. There’s the state championship next weekend, and the all-star game in July.
“It probably won’t hit me until I go to college and won’t have soccer as part of my schedule,” she said. “This is it for me. I want to finish with a state championship. We definitely have a tough road this year.”
McCool was part of the state championship team her freshman year, and the team has never stopped winning. McCool has played on teams that have won two state titles and combined for an 85-4 record heading into tonight’s match.
Coach Shannon Champ said that McCool and the other seniors on the team will be missed.
“We have some big shoes to fill next year, and that includes Melissa,” she said. “She’ been battling some injuries and illness this year, and I put her on the field when it is absolutely necessary. During the regular season, we were able to give her frequent breaks. I don’t see those breaks for the rest of the playoffs.”
Champ said the team benefits from McCool’s talent. The younger players benefit from her experience and wisdom.
“She was selected as one of our tri-captains,” Champ said. “She’s one of the players who we look to pass down the traditions and expectations of the Wando soccer program. She is an excellent student who uses discipline to succeed.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil