Marin McCoy has just been named a top nine finalist for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year, but that’s not the only thing on her mind. She’s trying to pick just one career and finding it harder than she thought it would be when she entered college.
“I’m interested in too many things,” says McCoy, a 2019 graduate of Swarthmore College.
She wants to teach or work at a nonprofit organization or in the public health sector. There is one thing that she knows for certain.
“I love working with young kids and teens,” says McCoy, who interned at Girls Inc., teaching STEM classes. She also volunteers at Rainbow Alley, a drop-in space for LGBTQ youth in Denver. “It’s a great way for me to begin to figure out what I want to do and learn what really gets me excited,” says McCoy. She recognizes and appreciates how Rainbow Alley provides a strong support system and a place to go that’s welcoming and accepting for LGBTQ young people.
After all, that’s what she had at Colorado Academy.
“Looking back, I realize how lucky I was,” says McCoy.
Nearly a decade of the soccer phenom’s bona fides are archived in headlines in sports-related websites, articles, and news outlets. Google her and you will see the accolades.
“Marin McCoy is Better than Ronaldo and Messi Combined” says one, while another reads, “Centennial Picks McCoy For Woman of The Year.” One writer boldly proclaims that McCoy’s tenure at Swarthmore is the stuff of legends: “It’s indisputable that she is the best women’s soccer player in school history.”
There is no shortage of facts to back up the headlines. McCoy was the Swarthmore Women’s Soccer all-time leading scorer. She racked up 57 goals and 35 assists, smashing school records. The United Soccer Coaches organization named her an All-American three times—on the second team her Freshman and Junior year and on the first team her Senior year—indicating her status as one of the best players in the country. She was also named to the Scholar All-America team.
In September, the string of awards McCoy has earned since her days at CA culminated when she learned about the NCAA Woman of the Year honor. To offer perspective, she is ranked in an elite top nine out of a record 585 female athletes nominated.
“I feel very lucky to have been given this award, because it looks at the student-athlete in a very holistic way,” McCoy says. “It recognizes my success, not just as an athlete, but also in academics and my commitment to community leadership.” Her community engagement experience includes work as a sexual health advisor, mental health peer advisor, residential advisor, soccer captain, STEM teacher, LGBTQ mentor, time spent researching gender-based violence in Ecuador, and coordinator of Play with Pride Week for her team (which shows support for athletes and coaches of all sexual orientations and gender identities).
“For me, the soccer numbers and records are fine,” she says. “But they are not as important as the work I did to learn from and improve my community.”
Athletic honors make headlines, but McCoy is quick to point out that, in fact, academics have been her top priority “throughout my life.” McCoy knew that CA teachers always saw well beyond the uniform, and expected a top performance in the classroom as well as on the field, and she expected no less from herself.
“The different aspects of my identity were important to CA teachers,” says McCoy. “I was never just a goal scorer.”
The CA classes she remembers are ones where teachers made her think and work hard. McCoy recalls Upper School English Teacher Stuart Mills, who attended her games, Upper School Science Teacher Dani Meyers’ enthusiasm and energy, and Katy Hills’ support and encouragement during the Senior Art Portfolio Show.
“I gained a lot of confidence and learned how to solve problems, thanks to the positive interactions and support I got exploring the arts,” says McCoy, whose oeuvre was a series on boats that included acrylic, wood carvings, melted wax, and origami paper pieces.
She also remembers a “high-level discussion-based learning environment” in the course she took from Luis Terrazas. “Initially, I didn’t feel confident speaking out in class,” she says. “By the end of the course I knew that I had something valuable to add.”
How can you use your talent and power?
At CA, McCoy’s experience with Mock Trial and Amnesty Club introduced her to complex subjects like the influence of race, class, and privilege in today’s world. Those ideas, she says, were “fully unpacked” at Swarthmore in discussions in academic courses and with her peers. Her college years offered what college should give—perspective on the advantages and opportunities she may have taken for granted during her academic and athletic career. “I hope that CA students will increasingly leave the school with a better idea of how much power they have and how they can best use that power,” she says.
Now, this athletic and academic powerhouse must make a decision about where she intends to wield her considerable post-collegiate talents. She’s starting with a firm CA foundation. She wishes everyone could experience a place like CA, where ideas and social norms are challenged in a supportive and inspirational environment and where, under strong, caring mentors, a person can truly thrive.
“It’s so rare,” says McCoy. “Maybe that’s the kind of place I am seeking to launch my career.”