Honor Thy Country
U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team captain Morgan Andrews takes great pride in representing her country.
But to the 17-year-old from Milford, N.H., she’s just following a family tradition, one set by her two biggest heroes.
While Morgan gets to play on soccer fields across the USA and the world while wearing her nation’s crest on her chest, her brothers are doing the admirable work of helping guide American’s youth and protecting the country.
Mike, 26, works for “Teach for America,” an organization dedicated to helping low-income students receive an excellent education. He teaches sixth-grade English in rough and tumble inner-city Boston while also running his school’s Sole Train program to encourage kids to get involved in track and field. Mike was a distance runner in high school and college.
“He’s the funniest guy I know and can change a person’s world just by making them laugh,” said Andrews. “I really want to be like him in the way that he helps people and he’s done that his whole life. It’s something that he loves to do and he’s been really brave to come from a small town and teach in the big city. His kids are really fortunate to have him. They look up to him and he really cares about them.”
Morgan is already following in Mike’s footsteps, starting a charity with her mom called “Kicks for Cans” in which she runs clinics for youth players and asks each to bring a can of food that she donates to the local food bank. Their mission statement: “Feed the Goal.”
Matt, 25, played soccer and rugby in high school and then took his 5-foot-11 muscled frame to ultimate fighting. Now, he’s an Army Green Beret who is getting ready to be deployed overseas.
“He’s always been a really tough guy and I’ve always looked up to him for that,” said Andrews. “He has his own sense of humor. He’s the opposite of Mike, but they are still really good friends and great brothers. He’s really caring in a quiet sort of way, but I know he’s super proud of me and I’m super proud of him.”
Morgan credits Matt for helping her develop a toughness that has served her well in the center of the pitch at the international level and perhaps given her the moxie to not only be the place-kicker and only girl on her high school football team, but also to make the All-State team as a junior.
When Andrews was 10 or 11, Matt would dress her up in full body pads and practice ultimate fighting with her.
“Of course, he didn’t beat me up too bad, and he let me get in a few shots as well,” said Andrews, whose dating prospects have thankfully not been handicapped by an older brother who has ultimate fighting experience.
When Morgan was little, they would rearrange the furniture in the house and play some no-holds-barred indoor soccer. That activity didn’t always end well, but it did help Andrews hone her competitive edge.
“Yeah, we broke a couple lamps, and I think we broke the doorbell once,” said Andrews. “It started smoking and my mom wasn’t happy.”
Both of her brothers called her before she left for Azerbaijan to say how proud they were of their kid sister getting the chance to represent the country in a World Cup. She’s just as proud of them, but admits to sometimes being worried about her big brothers as well.
“I’m the little sister and I look up to them so much,” said Andrews. “Mike works in what can be a difficult environment and Matt might be going somewhere dangerous soon, but I know they both have such great character and spirit that they will be ok.”
There are many ways to honor one’s country.
You can put on a soccer uniform or an Army fatigues or go to a classroom and work with kids every day. Morgan just wants to honor her brothers through her efforts.
“If they both find something they love, they are going to give it 100 percent,” said Andrews. “Their dedication is really admirable and I admire those qualities in them. I would do anything for them. They are my two biggest role models.”
It’s likely they would say the same thing about little sis.