At 15, Kate Marshall never imagined she’d find herself in the national spotlight. But that’s exactly what happened in December when Sports Illustrated named her their High School Athlete of the Month.
Kate has dreams of playing soccer in college, and says she will not let CF get in her way. “Just because I have cystic fibrosis doesn’t mean CF is who I am. My dream is to be the best I can be at whatever it is I do.”
“I was shocked,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m Kate from Maine. Why would they choose me?’”
But for anyone who knows Kate, the answer is obvious: the girl is a powerhouse.
The high school sophomore is on the honor roll, plays soccer and lacrosse for her high school team, helps coach youth soccer and competes year-round for her club team, Seacoast United. She does it all while managing cystic fibrosis, a serious, genetic disease.
“Living with cystic fibrosis isn’t easy, but Kate does it with grace and fortitude,” said her mother, Martha. “I think for Kate to be featured is a testament to the fact that she can reach her athletic goals while dealing with a complex, chronic disease.”
Having cystic fibrosis means Kate has difficulty breathing and digesting food. It also means that, in addition to keeping up with the basic responsibilities of being a teen, she must complete hours of treatments and take dozens of pills daily just to stay healthy.
That’s where soccer comes in. Kate started playing the sport in elementary school to help improve her lung function, but quickly realized that soccer is more than just exercise. It’s her passion.
This December, Kate Marshall, who has CF, was named High School Athlete of the Month by Sports Illustrated.
“The more I played, the more I fell in love with the sport, and the better my lungs felt,” she said. “I like being part of a team, and surrounding myself with positive people. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to stay healthy by doing something that I love.”
Kate is both the first female and the first athlete with CF to be named High School Athlete of the Month by Sports Illustrated, and said she is humbled to have been chosen.
“It’s such a cool experience. It’s an honor because I’m not just representing myself. I’m representing my town, my school, and the entire CF community.”
Since the article was published earlier this month, Kate has received hundreds of messages from people all across the country who have been inspired by her story. One of those messages even led to an unexpected friendship. Through Twitter, Kate connected with a Gardner-Webb University student who plays soccer and also has cystic fibrosis.
“I’ve never met someone I have so much in common with,” Kate said. “We plan to keep in touch because we want to support and learn from each other.”
Like her new friend, Kate has dreams of attending college. She’d like to earn a soccer scholarship and study medicine, and she has no plans of letting CF stand in her way.
“Just because I have cystic fibrosis doesn’t mean CF is who I am,” she said. “My dream is to be the best I can be at whatever it is I do.”