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Driven to success: Club star Morway still on a roll at ND
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist

Kecia Morway's


Matt Cashore

Kecia Morway's


Walt Middleton 2010

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Published: 10/1/2010 8:23 PM

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Most parents dread the day their teenagers get a driver's license.

Not Kecia Morway's parents.

"They were so happy when I got my license," Morway said. "It meant they didn't have to take me to soccer practice anymore. They had been doing that since I was 10. When I got my license, it meant I could drive myself."

Getting to soccer practice in Libertyville was a bit of a trek from Morway's far North suburban home in Lake Villa.

Practices for Eclipse Select, one of the most elite soccer clubs in the suburbs, were held at least three times a week. Sometimes more.

Then there was the travel to tournaments on the weekends. The team traveled not only throughout the state, but all over the country.

"It was a lot of driving around," Morway said. "It was a big-time commitment."

It was almost a blessing in disguise that Morway didn't also have to find a way to make time for daily soccer practice at her high school.

Morway graduated from Lakes High School last spring, but she never played a minute of soccer there.

Her dream for as long as she could remember was to play major Division I soccer, and she's doing so now as a defender for the nationally-ranked Notre Dame women's soccer team.

The 5-foot-3 Morway, who is just one of three freshmen starting for the No. 5 Irish, says she had to make a choice when she got to high school: play soccer for Lakes in the spring, or keep playing soccer for Eclipse Select. IHSA rules prohibit an athlete from doing both in the same season.

Despite the long car rides and weekend travel commitments, Morway chose club soccer because she thought that gave her the best chance to gain exposure on the recruiting trail.

It was a decision that worked out well for her in the end, but didn't always sit well with her peers along the way.

Questions of loyalty came into play. Hurt feelings seemed to surface.

"It's always been a controversial situation and there are always people who don't understand a decision like this or they'll misinterpret it," Morway said. "Obviously, I knew my high school coach really wanted me to play for the school team. So that was hard. And I didn't want the girls on my high school team to think that I was acting like I was above them. I just didn't see a need for me to play high school soccer. I just didn't see a benefit.

"I wanted to stay with my club team and work towards a national championship, and while I did that, I got so much more exposure than I ever would have gotten through my high school team."

A quick, aggressive, offensive-minded defender who helped Eclipse Select win four straight state championships and a national title in 2009, Morway had all kinds of scholarship offers. Besides Notre Dame, her finalists also included Northwestern and Clemson.

"Notre Dame had everything I wanted. A great soccer program, great academics and a beautiful campus," said Morway, who had a 4.0 grade-point average in high school. "The soccer team was such a selling point. I knew I would get challenged."

Year in and year out, Notre Dame fields one of the best women's soccer teams in the country. The Irish won national championships in 1995 and 2004.

To start for a program of this caliber as a freshman rightly humbles Morway.

"I never expected anything like this, but I was hoping for it," Morway said. "I'm just so happy to be in this position. To know that I worked myself from my little local Lindenhurst Rockets soccer team all the way through club and to a starting spot with the Fighting Irish - it's just such a huge accomplishment."

Sky shifts gears: Before the Chicago Sky even had a name, team president Margaret Stender was the face of the franchise. Perhaps even more so than owner Michael Alter.

On Friday, the Sky announced a major changing of the guard.

Stender will step down as team president and move to the role of team chairman of the Sky. Replacing her will be chief operating officer Adam Fox, who has been with the Sky since 2007.

Stender will still be heavily involved with the team and will serve as a consultant to Fox and Alter.

On the top of Fox's to-do list: find a head coach to replace Steven Key, who resigned last month.