Nov. 11, 2010

By Eric Page

Cat Whitehill has accomplished just about everything one can on a soccer field.

A two-time NCAA champion and national player of the year at North Carolina, Whitehill (formerly Cat Reddick) has been a regular on the U.S. National Team since 2000, competing in two World Cups and an Olympics. And she just finished her second season with the Women's Professional Soccer league's Washington Freedom after a stint with the W-League's New Jersey Wildcats.

But it doesn't stop there for Whitehill, who graduated from North Carolina with a communications degree in 2004. She writes a blog, where she raps on everything from her dogs to the BCS to her active involvement as an advocate for women's athletics. She has close to 2,000 followers on Twitter and, outside of her professional season, is a color commentator for NCAA soccer matches broadcast on ESPN.

"I love commentating," Whitehill said. "It has been such an incredible experience these past three years learning the ropes of being a commentator. I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to live out another dream of mine. I am grateful that I can actually use my communications degree, and I am also grateful that my soccer profession allows me to live out two dreams at once."

It's been a dream ride for Whitehill since she first stepped on the Chapel Hill campus in the fall of 2000. She made her first collegiate start in the NCAA championship game that year and scored the game-winning goal against UCLA to help her win the Most Valuable Defensive Player of the College Cup. She eventually became the most decorated player in the Tar Heels' storied history, earning consensus All-America honors her final three seasons and garnering player of the year honors as a senior despite playing only 13 matches because of her commitments with Team USA.

In 2003, Whitehill capped her college career by leading North Carolina to an undefeated season and another national championship and then helped the U.S. win gold at the Athens Olympics.

"That calendar year was definitely the best soccer year of my life," Whitehill said.
Whitehill played in the World Cup in 2003 and `07, and the U.S. grabbed a pair of third-place finishes, but she missed the 2008 Olympics because of an injury. Her international career is nearing its end, but she may give the World Cup another run in 2011.

Her professional career, however, is far from complete. She'll be back with the Freedom next season hoping to help the team build on its run to the playoffs this year. As always, she'll be doing things off the field to help the WPS raise its profile.

"It is definitely a goal of mine to make women's soccer a much more prevalent sport, so I don't see myself stopping anytime soon," Whitehill said. "Whenever my playing career comes to an end, I still want to help the WPS become a league that will withstand time and keep giving young women a chance to play the game they love."

It has been almost seven years since Whitehall completed her college career and left Chapel Hill. But she looks back with fond memories. Her experience there - as a student and athlete - laid the foundation for her life.

"Being a student-athlete at North Carolina was by far the best experience of my life," she said. "Not only did my coaches make me the best soccer player I could be, but being there made me a better person. I got my degree; I met my husband; I met my best friend; I found out who I was. It was the best four years of my life."

Eric Page is assistant director of web communications at Augustana College (Illinois).