EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 16, 2013

Moynihan Scholar-Athlete: Central's May balances grueling schedule

Soccer, academic whiz's greatest talent may be as a leader

Michael Muldoon
mmuldoon@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — Steph May’s academic resume is eye-popping. She’s already been accepted to RPI and is also applying to other engineering heavyweights MIT and WPI.

Her soccer accomplishments also are glittering. The senior from Windham is a four-year starter at Central Catholic, which is 12-0 and ranked No. 1 in the ESPNBoston state-wide poll.

Raider coach Casey Grange is well aware of May’s academic prowess and obviously knows all about her soccer skills. But, she says, they aren’t what make May truly special.

“She has already volunteered to start her Senior Night on the bench while her 11 senior teammates start. That, in my opinion, is unheard of from a high school athlete,” marvelled Grange. “She’s not looking for praise. She does it in a quiet way which no one but the coaches notice.”

That sort of leadership got her unanimously elected a tri-captain. She’s also a captain in lacrosse.

Central and its “May Day” defense has given up just one goal all year.

And that gets an asterisk. It was on a penalty kick.

She’s more than lived up to the acclaim she received in 2010 as a “Coming Attraction,” one of a handful of incoming freshman athletes profiled each summer in The Eagle-Tribune.

“She’s been the leader of the defense,” said Grange. “Her leadership and game sense, as well as her unselfishness, are what make our team successful.”

Her work ethic has always been there.

“I just like to challenge myself,” said May, a National Honor Society student who scored a 1,980 on her SATs including 710 in math. “I want to challenge myself.”

She certainly challenged herself junior year. She bypassed the standard study hall period to take another class, AP chemistry, no less.

Taking seven classes like last year, May already has pulled a couple all nighters or nights with just a couple hours sleep.

The concern with high achievers is they can be too single-minded and too driven.

Dave May said, thankfully, that is not his daughter.

“She doesn’t miss a dance, the prom, a night out with the gang,” he said. “She’s unrelenting, but still has fun. Maybe on Saturday or Sunday she’ll sleep until noon. She’s got a great head on her shoulders and keeps it in perspective.”

Steph said, “I want to relieve all the stress so I want to go out.”

Freshman year she helped the Raiders to their first state title.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said May.

But even as dominant as they’ve been this fall, she realizes there are no guarantees.

Admittedly some of these national polls can be questionable, but Central was rated No. 2 to Carmel (Ind.) High in the Adidas/National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll early in the 2011 season. The Raiders ultimately didn’t even get past the first round of the state tourney. Last year the unbeaten Raiders (15-0-4) were knocked off in the Division 1 North final by Beverly on penalty kicks.

“We don’t want to think about the rankings,” said May, showing maturity beyond her years. “We’ve seen how literally it’s just the night or day of the game that counts.”

...

Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.