KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The number 100 is a big one at Karns City High School.
Great girls soccer players who have come before McKenna Martin have reached that hallowed figure in goals scored in a career, stars like Leslie Barnhart, Brittni Grenninger, Breann Wood, Megan McCartney and Emily LoPresti — all legends in Gremlin history.
Martin wants to join them.
Martin sits at 62 goals heading into her junior campaign this fall as a forward at Karns City. Her big goal: reach 100 this season.
“It’s definitely doable,” Martin said, “but I still have a lot of work to do to get it. It’s always good to have goals for yourself, because that’s what pushes me to go hard and keeps me motivated. So, I think having that 100-goal benchmark, it gives me something to work toward.”
Not bad for a gymnast who didn’t start playing soccer until the fourth grade.
Karns City coach Tracy Dailey saw Martin running around in the back yard with her daughter, Emma, one day when both were younger and noted how fast and athletic Martin was.
The recruiting pitch began. It wasn’t a hard sell — Martin’s best friend, Emma, was a soccer player, after all.
Martin agreed to give it a shot and has been enamored with the sport ever since, playing it year-round with Karns City as well as a club and travel team.
“It was kind of like an immediate love,” Martin said. “I can never remember thinking, ‘I’m not so sure about this.’ As soon as I tried it, I fell in love with it.”
It didn’t take long for Martin to realize she was pretty good at it, too.
Utilizing her blazing speed at forward, there’s not many who can run step-for-step with Martin on the pitch. And, more bad news for Karns City opponents, Martin has hit the weight room hard this summer to get stronger.
“I’ve been really into weightlifting recently because it can’t hurt to be stronger, you know?” Martin said. “I’ve seen improvements. I keep my own book on the weights I’ve used and what I’ve been lifting so I can go back and compare and see my progress. I’ve made some pretty big leaps.”
Martin is hopeful Karns City can leap back into a District 9 2A championship again. A streak of eight consecutive district titles for the Gremlins was snapped last year.
“It was a tough loss. I mean, it just really broke everyone’s hearts,” Martin said. “But I feel like in a way that’s kind of what we needed because we have that fire, and I feel like if we wouldn’t have lost that game, we might be coming into this season feeling comfortable. We’re coming in with fire and motivation.”
Name: McKenna Martin
School: Karns City
Jersey Number: 7
Sports: Soccer, basketball, track and field
Graduation Year: 2023
2020-21 Highlights: Scored 24 goals to go with 11 assists.
Q: Who do you consider your mentors?
A: My parents (Danny and Stacy) and my coach (Tracy Dailey). Just because how supportive they are. They support all my decisions and really just encourage me to get out of my comfort zone, which I need from time to time.
Q: What do you eat before a big game?
A: A bowl of cereal, or maybe just some fruit. It sort of depends on how I feel.
Q: What’s your goals beyond high school?
A: I definitely want to play soccer in college. I’ve been going to a few camps here and there, so I really hope that someone will be interested.
Q: Favorite music?
A: I listen to a variety of stuff, but mostly country.
Q: What’s something people may not know about you?
A: (Chuckling) That I don’t like to run. I know. It sounds weird because I play soccer and I run a lot, but I don’t like it. During a game, I’m focused on what’s going on, the strategy, everything else. But when I’m just running, it’s not for me.
Q: Um … but you’re joining the track team this year, right?
A: Yes (laughing). I’ll definitely be a sprinter, though.