Michal Ann Starr is a study in contrasts. She’s a fierce athlete, relentlessly fighting for the ball from her position as center midfielder, but she’s a softie for a good love story – “my favorite movie is ‘Pride and Prejudice.’” She loved the books Glass Castle and The Book Thief – “I’m a big reader” – but she’ll major in math & business at Oklahoma State University in the fall. She was a jock growing up, playing basketball and softball in addition to soccer, but she misses her days of singing in the choir – “I had to give it up after freshman year.”

Michal Ann says she misses the girls from last year’s team who graduated and went off to college. “They were strong players – they made me step up my game. Madison Short (now playing for Liberty University) taught me my position. She helped me learn what to do – I admire her.”

Michal Ann enjoys being a leader on the team, but she says “I’m not very vocal, and that makes it hard sometimes. I try to lead by example. I have a strong work ethic, and I do what I’m supposed to do.”

She prepares for game days by having a pasta lunch for energy, and “I have to have my banana.” She is active at LHHS, competing on the cross country team and participating in Student Council, NHS and the math honor society. Michal Ann says her biggest honor was being named to the All-District soccer team last year, and she earned individual All-Tournament honors at the recent RISD Ice Bowl.

Of the team she says, “We’re still getting to know each other. We’re working out the kinks,” but she predicts they’ll make the playoffs as they did last year as bi-district champs. “Our toughest district opponent will be Carrollton Creekview,” she told me. “They beat us twice last year – once 2-0 and once in dribble-ups after a tie.” She says the best part of traveling is team bonding on the bus ride – listening to music and to Coach Misty Benson’s pep talks. “She gives us advice on soccer and on life.”

Michal Ann is tenacious – she doesn’t let obstacles get in her way. Most of her teammates don’t know that she’s highly allergic to trees and has to get monthly allergy shots to enable her to practice and play outdoors. So does she ever just relax and play soccer for pure enjoyment? “I love coed soccer,” she says of the game played each spring through the Lake Highlands Soccer Association with boys and girls playing together on a team. “We play just for fun…but I DO like to win.” As I said, a study in contrasts.