Mandy McCalla and the Rebels host Arkansas and No. 10 Texas A&M this weekend.
Sept. 14, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. – We all have an infatuation as a child whether it be that food we have to eat at every meal, the favorite toy we carry with us everywhere or a flavor of ice cream we have to eat and no other will do.
For many of us, it’s an affection that may last a year or two until that toy is lost or left in the yard as a new toy gains our attention, that favorite book we must have read to us at bedtime is put on a shelf or we finally decide that another flavor of ice cream might actually be ok.
But for some, that affection is one that can’t ever be shaken and no matter where else we may look or how we may try, we always keep coming back.
For Mandy McCalla, a junior on the Ole Miss soccer team, that infatuation that grew into a lifetime love began with a wall in the back yard where she would go every day and kick a soccer ball starting as young as four or five years old.
“All I did was soccer,” McCalla said with a laugh. “We had this huge yard and my sister and I would go out and kick a soccer ball against this brick wall every day. We would just blast the ball against that wall for hours and hours. I didn’t want to stop.”
That love continued to develop over time and no matter what other sports McCalla might pursue, she couldn’t quite shake it. The Georgia native tried her hand at other sports, to be sure, giving it a go on the softball diamond and on other fields of play. But try as she might, the call of the soccer pitch was too strong.
“Softball was ok, but it was so slow paced and there wasn’t enough running for me,” McCalla said with a laugh. “The mental aspect of soccer and the fact that you’re always thinking and evaluating where the next pass is, where the ball is, where your mark is and all the thinking – it’s just so much going on while you’re on the field.”
And so, it was there she found herself spending most of her days growing up. And she’s continued pursuing that love for the last 16 years.
McCalla spent summers playing club soccer with hometown friend and current teammate Erin Emerson and developing the skills that would lead to her catching the eye of college coaches around the country, but particularly in the southeast – and the Southeastern Conference.
The child of Auburn graduates and growing up in the heart of Bulldog country in Georgia, McCalla was no stranger to the rivalries and die hard love for sports in the SEC. It was something that was very familiar to her and peaked her interest when trying to decide where to go to school and play soccer.
There was only one thing that was a given – she would continue to play soccer collegiately with Emerson.
The two talked about their choices constantly, weighing their options between Ole Miss, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. After a visit to Oxford, the decision was an easy one for McCalla.
“I just loved the campus, and still do – it’s beautiful,” McCalla said. “I loved the team and the chemistry and camaraderie. I haven’t been to a college town more beautiful than Oxford. The sense of pride in Ole Miss and Oxford stood out so much when I visited. I wanted to be a part of it.”
She arrived in Oxford for the 2010 season and immediately made an impact on the squad and in the SEC, earning a spot on the All-Freshman team when the league’s coaches made their selections for post-season honors.
McCalla followed that up with a solid sophomore season a year ago, finishing the season second on the team with five goals and third in points with 14. She hit the game-winning goal against Mississippi State to end the season and has used that performance – one she calls her best memory as a Rebel – to build on for this season.
That foundation has been a solid one so far this year as McCalla has helped the Rebels post a 6-0 start to the year through the first three weeks of play. The junior leads the squad in goals with seven and hit the game-winning goal against Saint Louis in the season opener and again against Texas Tech.
She has goals for the squad she’d like to achieve but she won’t talk about them too much beyond winning a championship for Ole Miss and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament before she finishes her eligibility.
But ask her about her teammates and the face brightens up and she’s not so tight-lipped. She immediately launches into a speech about how lucky she is to have them, whether it is the talented upperclassmen she’s played with for two years, or the 11 freshmen on the squad.
“They are a driven bunch and each of them has something to add to the team,” McCalla said. “They are physical in the back line and we have speed and precision at the midfield and the front. They are so tactical and technical. You wouldn’t know they are freshmen they have been so dominant. They were ready to play when they came in.
“I just hope we’re setting the example for them as upperclassmen, that’s what we have to do and I hope we’re doing a good job of that,” McCalla said.
The Rebels kick off Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a pair of home matches against Arkansas and conference newcomer Texas A&M.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ATLANTA - On Saturday, fans can tune in to see the Rebels duo of Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze and former Ole Miss basketball player Sean Tuohy compete in the Chick-fil-A... read more
Only 50 days until The Grove is full, the constant shouts of "Hotty Toddy" are in the air, and football kicks off 100 years in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium! Looking forward to this upcoming college football season, seven Rebels were named to... read more
As we near the 2015 college football season, national organizations have started to release watch lists for their respective awards. Through the first week of watch lists being released, multiple Rebels have been announced as players that fans need to... read more
Along with head coach Hugh Freeze, three Rebels will represent Ole Miss at the annual SEC Football Media Days next week. Junior Evan Engram, just named to the John Mackey Award Watch List for college football's most outstanding tight end,... read more
Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more
The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more
With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more
Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more
Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more
The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more
Although they will not begin competing for the Rebels until the fall, several members of the 2015 signing class have arrived at Ole Miss to begin their college journey this summer. The first of two summer sessions offered at the... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more
Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more
Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more