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.
The SEC Network will air every SEC spring football game with multiple viewing opportunities on both television and the network's digital platforms. All 12 spring football games will be carried live and in full on SEC Network + with additional... read more
Through the first seven spring practices, or three weeks since the start of spring practice on March 3, there does not appear to be any separation between sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade and junior college transfer Chad Kelly. Whether... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review March 17-23, 2015 Men's Basketball - Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. -... read more
The men's basketball team saw its run in the NCAA Tournament come to an end in the Round of 64 after a thrilling win in the First Four. The women's basketball team won two postseason WNIT games to continue its... read more
Junior left-hander Christian Trent and sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett picked up quality starts on the mound, and the offensive provided some timely hits, which proved to be a winning formula as Ole Miss claimed the weekend series over No. 1... read more
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White,... read more
From his five years at Cincinnati, three as an assistant coach and one each as associate head coach and interim head coach, head coach Andy Kennedy knows and has experienced the Xavier program first hand, having coached against the Musketeers... read more
Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite... read more
Giant Killers come in many different shapes and forms in the NCAA Tournament. They are not just your teams from smaller and mid-major conferences, but also your lower-seeded power-conference teams. As defined by ESPN's Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner, Giants Killers... read more
March Madness reigned in Dayton, as 11th-seeded Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. The nation watched, and they reacted to... read more
Talking to members of the local media Sunday before leaving for Dayton on Monday, head coach Andy Kennedy and senior guard Jarvis Summers spoke of a familiarity with BYU, their First Four opponent, from watching the Cougars' 73-60 win at... read more