Mary Kate Bowers is a stud senior forward for the College of Charleston soccer team and the easiest decision for her was becoming a Cougar. On her very first visit to the school, she knew immediately – it was a match made in heaven.
“If you know me, and you think of Charleston, the two just go hand-in-hand. I’m very outgoing and I love formal things, and I think it has been a perfect fit athletically and academically.”
The decision to continue her promising soccer career at the College of Charleston was important to Bowers as she began her soccer career at just four years old.
In her senior season, Bowers is just as in love with the school as she was when she was first recruited out of high school – three seasons can bring a lot of joy and personal highlights for a player.
For Bowers, there were two that stood out more than any other and reflected on two instances where the moment seemed larger than life.
“Freshman year I scored the OT goal against Charleston Southern. It was monumental, it was the first game my parents went to. It was under the lights, on a Friday night, and at Blackbaud stadium” Bowers explained.
“It was surreal, to realize ‘I am a college athlete, and I am producing for my team’ and it really put my dreams into reality,” Bowers said.
She also spoke about an emotional win from this season, where she made the assist for the game-winning goal against Towson.
“As I crossed it and saw that she had (Alyssa Beck) scored, I immediately started crying. It was 120 degrees that day, and we were all totally exhausted. To have all of that hard work come to fruition and a goal be scored was big for us,” Bowers said.
Although Bowers’ career was filled with plenty of success, playing soccer at a high level for 17 years without facing your fair share of adversity doesn’t happen.
In the midst of her final season as a collegiate athlete, Bowers found her role with the team fluctuating more so than ever before. With a deeper roster and more offensive weapons than years prior, Bowers couldn’t feast on opposing defenses the way she had earlier in her career.
This change has served as a big challenge for her, but she managed to overcome the adversity by embracing her leadership role with the squad and lead by example.
As she stated in her pre-game speech prior to last Thursday’s game at UNCW, a big aspect of the team’s success is being cogs for the same machine, and working as one.
“Whether you’re playing 90 minutes or you’re there to stay warm on the sidelines, you need to embrace your role with the team, and own your role,” Bowers stated.
“So, if my role is to be a pump-up hype woman, then that’s what my role is, and I’m going to own it and do it to the best of my ability,” Bowers concluded.
Bowers also shared the phrase she lives her life by, “Why not me?” as she reflected on times when she could have doubted herself. When asked to host the Cougar awards, when taking a shot on goal, or even when faced with adversity in the classroom, these are all instances where that motto served of use for Bowers.
As the conclusion of her soccer career draws near, Bowers finds herself reflecting not on goals and assists or wins and losses, but on the irreplaceable relationships, she cultivated during that time.
“I can always play pick up soccer, but it will never be the same as spending 3 hours a day with the girls.”
The memories that Bowers says she’ll miss the most will be those with her three best friends from the team: Rio Speller-Drews, Tracy Webster, and Hannah Huizenga-her roommates for all four years at the College of Charleston.
“They’re all seniors, so it’s not like I’ll be missing time with them, but even after college I don’t know that we’ll ever hang out as much as we do now,” says Bowers. “Those are memories that I definitely can’t take for granted.”
Bowers left with a few words of encouragement for incoming players: “It goes by so fast. Embrace every aspect of it. No matter what hits you on your journey, no matter what setbacks you face, trials, successes, embrace it all. And know what you’re doing is so hard. Being a collegiate athlete is not an easy thing to do, mentally and physically. Embrace everything you’re going through. You’re worth it, you deserve it, and it will go by really fast.”