Publish date:

Team First

Amy Caldwell had to make a tough decision before leading Braintree (Mass.) High to a state soccer title

AT FIRST glanceBraintree (Mass.) High attacker Amy Caldwell--all of 5'1" and 105pounds--hardly looks like one of the nation's top soccer players. But Caldwell,17, the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year for Massachusetts, comes up bigwhen it counts.

The sport is afamily affair for Caldwell, whose father, Larry, played for the HartfordBicentennials of the North American Pro Soccer League. Her older brother,Keith, 23, was drafted by the Colorado Rapids of MLS; sister Andrea, 20, is acollege star; and younger brother Scott, 15, attends the IMG Soccer Academy inBradenton, Fla. The Caldwell clan often played spirited games of two-on-two inthe family's basement, where the walls were padded with old mattresses."We're so competitive," says Amy, "that those games were prettyintense."

That basementtraining has served her well. As a junior, Caldwell--who orally committed toBoston College in May--scored 43 goals and led Braintree to the finals of the2005 Division 1 state tournament. But the night before the title game againstnationally ranked Minnechaugh High, Caldwell got a call. She had previouslybeen named to the under-16 national team and was told that if she wasn't intraining camp in Florida the next day she would be replaced. Caldwell had tochoose between leaving her Braintree teammates before their biggest game ormissing a chance to showcase her skills on a national stage. Caldwell stayed.But as kickoff approached, she was despondent. Minutes before the game started,Braintree coach Fred Marks ordered his players back on the bus, and in aneffort to rally them he cranked up Madonna's Like a Prayer, the team's song.Before long everyone, including Caldwell, was fired up and bumping to theMaterial Girl. "They were so loud the bus was rocking," says Marks.

The plan worked.After falling behind 2-0, Braintree tied the game in the final minutes ofregulation. Caldwell scored the game-winner in OT. Later she was invited to theunder-17 national team's training camp in January. "I don't have anyregrets," she says. "I wasn't going to leave my team."

Daily Coverage

For more high school news and rankings, including thePrimetime Performer and SI's football Top 25, go to SI.com/highschool.

NEWS & NOTES

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association ruled onAug. 28 that Bastrop High must forfeit its 2005 Class 4A state footballchampionship for illegally recruiting players. Junior quarterback RandallMackey (left) and senior running back Jamal Recasner--both Hurricane Katrinaevacuees who transferred from Port Sulphur High last season--allegedly signedfalse reports about their transfers. Last Friday the LHSAA reduced theirsuspensions from a full season to two games.... Three high schoolseniors--Bianca Knight (below) of Ridgeland, Miss.; Gabby Mayo of Raleigh,N.C.; and Jeneba Tarmoh of San Jose Mount Pleasant--teamed with USC freshmanElizabeth Olear to set a world junior record of 43.29 in the 4√ó100-meter relayat the University of Oregon on Aug. 8.... Agoura (Calif.) High catcher RobertStock will forgo his senior year and enroll at USC. Stock was expected to bethe first high school player chosen in next June's major league baseballdraft.

THE LIST

O.J. on the Move

O.J. Mayo (right), the top high school basketballplayer in the country, announced last week that he's transferring from Ohio'sNorth College Hill High to Huntington (W.Va.) High. As a junior at NCH, Ohio'sMr. Basketball averaged 28.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. His new team has wonback-to-back state titles and already starts three Division I prospects.

TV Treats

It'll be a busy season of high school football on thetube. Friday Night Lights (premiering on Oct. 3 on NBC), a drama based on thebook and movie of the same name, is drawing rave reviews. Also airing:Two-a-Days, an MTV documentary that follows the Hoover (Ala.) Buccaneers overthe course of the 2005 season. And ESPN will broadcast 13 high schoolgames.

Hot Korn

Willy Korn (left), a senior quarterback from Byrnes(S.C.) High, is off to a torrid start. In a 55--20 season-opening win overHartsville (S.C.) High on Aug. 18, the Clemson commit had eight touchdowns (sixpassing, two rushing), and in Byrnes's 27--15 win over Glades (Fla.) Central onAug. 26--which aired on ESPN--he tossed three more TDs.

Florida's Own

The top high school athletes in the Sunshine State arestaying home. Star small forward Chandler Parsons (Lake Howell High) will joinhighly regarded guards Adam Allen (Milton) and Gary Clark (Montverde Academy)in Gainesville next fall and play for Billy Donovan. Gators football coachUrban Meyer has scored commitments from star defensive lineman Torrey Davis(Armwood) and running back Chris Rainey (Lakeland), who rushed for 267 yardsand four TDs in a game on Aug. 27.

FIVE PHOTOS

MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (CALDWELL); SHANE BEVEL/THE TIMES/AP (MACKEY); JULIAN FINNEY/GETTY IMAGES (KNIGHT); AL BEHRMAN/AP (MAYO); JOHN BYRUM/THE SPARTANBURG HERALD-JOURNAL (KORN)