For Tara Woelfel, a senior at Catoctin High School, the game of soccer is more than just kicking a ball.
It’s her future.On June 6, Woelfel will graduate from her Thurmont high school, and in the fall she will head off to Gardner-Webb University, nestled in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Awarded a four-year scholarship to play soccer at the private Christian-Baptist university, Woelfel, 17, plans to study to become a physical-education teacher upon graduation.
She is a stand-out on the field, earning her team’s MVP award this year, and off — earning a 4.06 grade point average.
“I’m so excited,” Woelfel said. “It’s sad at the same time, but I’m ready to start something new.”
Woelfel said her participation in a soccer club in Frederick is what initially caught the attention of university officials last year.
“They came and saw me,” she said. “I was in North Carolina at a tournament and they saw me and I was recruited.”
The decision to continue playing soccer in college did not come easily. Her love of basketball came in a close second.
“I’ve played basketball since I was little and was back and forth between basketball and soccer,” she said. “But soccer is my thing.”
It’s not hard to see how Woelfel came to love sports at such a young age.
Her mother, Brenda Woelfel, played basketball, field hockey and softball when she was a student at Catoctin High School in 1983. Today, she is the assistant coach of the freshmen girl’s basketball team. Woelfel’s brother, Derek Woelfel serves as head coach.
And, Woelfel father, John Woelfel, played soccer, basketball and ran track for the high school. Today, he is the assistant varsity coach of the girls’ basketball team.
“My dad has coached me all my life, and my mom coached me in elementary school,” Woelfel said. “My dad coached me in middle school and high school.”
Woelfel is more than just an athlete. She leaves behind a varied and well-rounded high-school career.
In the 10th grade, Woelfel served as treasurer of her sophomore class. The following year, she went on to become vice president of her junior class, and today she is the president of the graduating senior class.
“I like being a role model and a leader,” she said. “I like getting involved in things.”
To prepare for teaching, Woelfel also is serving an internship teaching physical education at the Thurmont Primary School.
“I love little kids,” she said. “I knew I wanted to help people and I wanted to help younger people. The [students] are all so cute.”
The school’s principal, Debra Myers, praised Woelfel’s teaching skills.
“She has had a great impact on our children,” Myers said. “She has done so much toward our ‘body power’ mission.”
The school’s body power mission helps students develop a healthy lifestyle and fitness level with a focus on movement, skills and physical fitness.
“She’s an extra pair of hands that have done so much toward our mission,” Myers said.
As Woelfel prepares to walk on stage and receive her diploma, she said she has mixed emotions.
“It’s hard to believe I’m not going to see these people next year,” she said. “I like this school. The school has been good to me.”