New Oxford High senior Allison Mack did not play high school soccer in the spring, but her love of the game had already been firmly rooted.
Mack said, "Ever since I was little, Coach (Michael) O'Connor used to say, 'If you like the game, that's good, but if you love the game, it's important. It's great. It's even more important if you love the game.'"
That affinity for soccer has taken Mack from the Hanover Soccer Club to several other club teams -- and now to Binghamton University.
Mack signed a partial scholarship offer from the New York university's NCAA Division I program on Wednesday morning, joining thousands of others who signed commitments in various collegiate sports.
"With my club team, I've traveled to places like Las Vegas, Florida and like all around New Jersey and Virginia to play tournaments," Mack said. "Going to those different locations helps you get your name out there and more college coaches get to see you."
That's exactly what happened to Mack, who also compiled 16 goals and seven assists in three seasons competing for New Oxford High School.
"After one of my tournaments, my coach said, 'Hey, this school from New York, Binghamton University, has their radar on you,' which means they're going to keep watching me," she said, adding, "So I looked it up and I thought, 'Hmmm, this school is pretty cool.' I looked it up, saw they were a good academic school and saw they were D-I, which is pretty interesting.
Mack therefore exchanged her interest with the university's coach and was invited for a visit. From that point, despite other visits to Rosemont and Liberty, Binghamton was her preference.
"Academics are important. Tutoring is offered for all athletes," Mack said. "One of the cool things is that the soccer team has an academic captain. ... Whoever has the highest GPA on the team has the Academic Captain Award, and it changes every semester, so I thought that was really neat."
Though undecided about her major, Mack said Binghamton has a highly regarded psychology department, which may influence her choice.
Learning toward pre-medicine, Mack said, "One of the cool things is my coach is very academic. She supports academics a lot. She was a biochem (biochemistry) major herself, so she understands that good academics are important."
On the field, Mack's goals are less defined, though she said she likely will play on the defensive half of the pitch.
O'Connor, who attended the signing ceremony and who is New Oxford's head boys' soccer coach, said Mack will be ideally suited to any position.
"She has applied herself to the game. She became a student of the game to the point where she could play any position on the field," he said, adding, "She has a great work ethic because she lifts up the team that you're coaching because she's focused.
"When she gets to practice, it's soccer time, not playtime."
However, Mack said the NCAA Division I level to be a new experience.
"I just want to improve my level of play," Mack said. "Hopefully, I learn new things. I have no doubt that I will."
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