Taking it to another level

Almost four years ago, Morgan Proffitt received an invitation to the U.S. Women’s Soccer U-18 training camp in California.

She never made it.

A week before she was to leave, Proffitt, who was finishing her junior year at Columbus North, tore her ACL in a club soccer game. That caused her to miss the training camp and all but two games of her senior season with the Bull Dogs.

Now, nearly four years later, Proffitt will have another chance to show her skills on the national level. Last week, the Marquette junior was invited to the Women’s U-23 training camp, which runs Sunday through May 7 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“They told me they’d keep my name on a list,” Proffitt recalled of 2012. “It’s been a while, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Proffitt was looking through her email last week, sorting through mostly school-related items, when she noticed a name she didn’t recognize. It was Kevin Mellon, the national team coordinator.

Mellon’s email contained an invitation to participate in the training camp.

“I did a little dance in my room and called my mom (Marsha),” Proffitt said. “It was kind of overwhelming.”

The Women’s U-23 team already is in place. The training camp will serve as a tryout for athletes who could potentially fill in for an injured player or get called up to the team for an extended period.

Illinois coach Janet Rayfield, who is leading the training camp, said the U23 program is a wonderful bridge between the country’s U20 program and the full women’s national team. She said players in the U23 pool often have emerged and excelled in the competitive college environment around the country.

“As an All-Big East performer, Morgan Proffitt has demonstrated the ability to compete in an excellent conference, and this will be a great opportunity to challenge herself around some of the best in the country,” Rayfield said.

Fortunately for Proffitt, she hasn’t experienced any lingering effects from the ACL injury since she’s been at Marquette.

“I feel in shape,” Proffitt said. “We’ve been doing lots of workouts every morning during the week. The coaches have prepared me. All credit to my coaches and family to getting me where I am. I’m healthy and doing my best.”

After playing the stopper position her first three years at Marquette, Proffitt is moving to a holding or defensive center midfield spot for her senior year as the Golden Eagles transition from a three-back to a four-back defense. Proffitt was first-team All-Big East and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region defender this year after earning second-team All-Big East honors as a sophomore.

This fall, Proffitt hopes to lead Marquette back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since her freshman year.

“We have a lot of new talent coming in, and I’m excited to see what is going to come in the fall,” she said.

Fortunately for Proffitt, she won’t have to miss any finals or practice time at Marquette. The training camp falls during the school’s dead week.

Finals at Marquette take place the week of May 9 to 13.

“My hope is that I’ll have time to study for them while I’m at camp,” Proffitt said. “But they’ve been super accommodating, and they’ve been really nice about working around it.”

Proffitt is on track to graduate next May with a degree in operations and supply chain management.  She would like to continue playing soccer — whether it’s in the National Women’s Soccer League or overseas.

“I’m being positive about it,” Proffitt said. “It’s definitely an opportunity for me, and it’s a goal. It just depends if I want to stay in the U.S. or go overseas. I think it would be really cool to keep playing.”

But for now, Proffitt is excited to have a chance to showcase her talents on a national stage.

“It means the world, just the fact that I have the opportunity to prove myself against the best players in the nation,” Proffitt said. “I still can’t believe it. I just hope I go out there and represent Marquette well and all the Indiana folks well.”

The Morgan Proffitt File

High school: Columbus North

College: Marquette

Year: Junior

Height: 5-10

Position: Defender/midfielder

Major: Operations and supply chain management

Family: Parents Randy and Marsha Proffitt; brother Austin, a senior golfer at Columbus East

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.