Favorite athlete: Chase Utley
Favorite team: The Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Playing field hockey with my sister in her senior night game.
Funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My coach has named our team’s corners after my pigs! (Wiggy, Arnold, and Simon).
Music on mobile device: Shotgun by George Ezra
Future plans: To become an astronautical engineer.
Words to live by: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. . . The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R. R. Martin
One goal before turning 30: To find a job/profession that I genuinely enjoy doing every day! (And hopefully will help me in my endeavor to send a pig to space).
One thing people don’t know about me: I am ambidextrous! I broke a finger on my dominant hand playing field hockey and had to teach myself to be ambidextrous.
By Mary Jane Souder
Kate McQuarrie was leveled on the hockey field recently in the kind of nasty collision that – according to coach Heather Whalin – would have had most players up in arms.
“Her girl backed into her, turned around and just ran through her,” the Council Rock North field hockey coach said. “I think her goggles hit Kate’s head, and a big knot came out immediately.
“When she came off the field, she said, ‘Coach, I’m okay’ and she was smiling. I’m like, ‘Kate, get mad one time,’ and she’s like, ‘It’s fine.’”
As it turns out, that is vintage Kate McQuarrie.
“I’ve never seen her be negative in my life,” Whalin said. “She smiles 24/7. Sometimes I want to kick her in the shins and say, ‘Be mean,’ but it’s not in her wheelhouse. She’s just this positive person who cheers for everyone.
“Kate is so smart. She got 36 out of 36 on the ACT test – she’s a genius.”
McQuarrie’s resume is undeniably dazzling. She is a member of the Latin Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Honor Society, Science Honor Society and serves as vice president of Rock South’s Math Honor Society.
Five of six classes in each of the last two years are AP classes, and she will graduate from Rock North with more than 250 volunteer hours. Her college list is an impressive one and includes MIT, UCLA and USC with plans to major in astronautical engineering.
Sports enter the picture
McQuarrie would be the first to tell you that sports weren’t the most prominent thing in her family.
“My sister (Anna) always played lacrosse, and a lot of girls who play lacrosse play field hockey as well, so she ended up playing field hockey in middle school which is what got me on to field hockey,” McQuarrie said. “I hadn’t really played any other sports before this. I was never a kid who played soccer when I was little or anything.”
McQuarrie tried both hockey and lacrosse. Hockey was the one that stuck.
“I definitely liked playing it to do something similar to my sister,” she said. “Once I started playing I liked that it was the first sport that not only made sense to me in the way that it works and thinking about strategy – it was the first sport that I was good at, which was big for me.”
McQuarrie saw limited varsity action as a freshman but was in the starting lineup sophomore year. A defender from the outset – except for a short-lived stint at forward when she was a freshman, McQuarrie has been a mainstay in the Indians’ backfield.
“I like the idea of having a goal that isn’t putting the ball in the cage,” she said. “It’s more like getting the ball out of the most dangerous area and sending it up to someone who could put it in the cage.
“I’m much better when I have a goal that’s less focused and you can send the ball anywhere as long as you’re not letting it in the cage.”
“Kate does the fundamentals properly,” Whalin said. “She’s so coachable. If you tell her to do something, she will do that exact thing every time the same way because she’s a perfectionist.
“She doesn’t do anything fancy, she doesn’t care about reverse chips. She is someone who will do her fundamentals and what she does well properly every time and not try and change it up. Some kids in hockey will say, ‘I saw this girl do that, and I’m going to try it.’ She understands where her strengths lie and she uses that. That’s what makes her a strong player and captain.”
There’s no mistaking that the highlight of McQuarrie’s hockey career was playing with her sister when she was a sophomore.
“My sister is my best friend,” McQuarrie said. “We got a lot closer in high school because we were both playing lacrosse, we were both playing field hockey.
“A lot of our time aligns with each other. We work at the same bakery (The Lucky Cupcake at Peddler’s Village), so we were spending a lot of time together and she just became my best friend. In field hockey, she hadn’t been on varsity until her senior year, so for me, her senior year was the time I could really cheer her on. She was getting to play, and I think it was the best year for her. It was really amazing.”
The siblings played at opposite ends of the field – Kate on defense and Anna on the forward line.
“We weren’t vying for each other’s positions,” McQuarrie said. “We were just both being supportive of each other.
“Being able to play with her was one of the best experiences of my life. Field hockey really brought us together.”
Whalin admits she never saw anything quite like the McQuarrie sisters.
“I have a sister, and I remember being on my sister during games and saying, ‘Come on, you’ve got to do better,’” the Indians’ coach said. “When they were playing together, Kate would scream so loud for her sister and vice versa.
“They have such a great bond together. I’ve always been like, ‘Lori, get better’ with my sister, and those two are like ‘Oh my god, you’re the best player out here. Keep it up.’ One time I stopped them and said, ‘Look, you don’t have a normal sister relationship.’ They were the biggest supporters of each other ever, ever, ever, and that’s not real, but it is with them. It’s crazy.
“I’ve never seen it before. I’ve had sisters who were teammates before, and they’re always yelling at each other. These two were the presidents of each other’s fan clubs.”
Anna went on to play club hockey for a successful UC San Diego squad, and that sibling bond – it’s stronger than ever.
The three little pigs
There’s much more to McQuarrie than the fact that she’s an excellent student and a mainstay in the defensive backfield for her hockey team. It’s a side that has made her such a beloved captain of the hockey team.
“She’s got this quirky thing that I always found cute, and I think everyone loves it,” Whalin said. “She has this pig collection, and she bought one for everyone on the team, and they all have different names. She’s had these pigs her entire life.”
Pigs, yes, pigs - TY Beanie Baby pigs that have taken the Rock North hockey team by storm. Three of the team’s corners are even named after McQuarrie’s three pigs – Arnold, Wiggy and Simon.
“They definitely get people smiling and laughing,” McQuarrie said. “I’ve had some of them since I was four.”
The pig connection to the field hockey team began innocently enough after McQuarrie’s sister took some pictures of one of them while on vacation (Yes, the pigs travel well and have visited far more places than most people).
“The field hockey team saw the pictures and were like, ‘Those are so cute, you should bring them to practice,’” McQuarrie said. “My coach is so superstitious. I brought them to practice, and we had a good practice.
“I brought them to the first game and we had a good game. She was like, ‘Those pigs have to be here all the time, they can’t go anywhere.’ They kind of became our new mascot.”
The pigs went well beyond the usual mascot, and these days, each of McQuarrie’s teammates as well as the coaches has a pig of their own (Whalin’s pig is named Bacon).
“They don’t make them anymore, but eventually, my mom found the brand on ebay, and she got them for all the girls – they’re little key chains and everyone has one,” McQuarrie said. “It was just a cute thing we had.
“If you see someone in the hallway with a little pig keychain, it was like – that’s one of my field hockey friends. They come to every game. A lot of the girls have them as key chains on their field hockey bags.”
McQuarrie’s three pigs are avid hockey fans.
“They came to our games all of last season and throughout this season,” the senior captain said. “I just added one. Since my sister left, she gave me hers to add in her place to watch us.”
Anna McQuarrie’s pig sports a t-shirt she made bearing the name of her college – UC San Diego. The pigs – who have their own wardrobes - wear personalized necklaces made by the players, including a GPOAT (Greatest Pig of All-Time) necklace.
They have their own Instagram account (smol_piggy) that includes photos of their adventures.
“My sister took them to South Korea - they’re more well-traveled than I am,” McQuarrie said. “People take them places sometimes without me.
“I think last year we really needed some motivation in the middle of the season, and I think everyone coming together and having something that was a common thread – we all had a little pig. It just was a little inspiration for us and something that brought us together.”
Beyond hockey and pigs
When McQuarrie says she’s heavily involved in community service, she isn’t kidding. Topping her list is the community club called SHARE (Students Helping Area Residents Effectively).
“My mom and I and my sister when she was in high school as well as a few other parents and students in our school run it,” McQuarrie said of a club that is not directly affiliated with Council Rock North. “We are very local. We started it to help a former receptionist at one of the elementary schools who became a quadriplegic, and we have expanded.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do. We’ve partnered with Urban Promise and tutor kids in Trenton. We’ve partnered with Aid for Friends, an organization that collects and packages food for shut-ins and the homeless in the area. It’s been one of the most valuable experiences of my high school years.”
McQuarrie recalls the first time she and nine other students from SHARE helped pack food with Aid for Friends.
“They do packing every third Saturday of the month at a church in Yardley,” she said. “Usually they took three or four hours to pack however many meals they usually pack, but with the 10 of us helping, which is not that many people in the real scope of things, we packed almost double the amount of meals they usually pack in almost half the time.
“For me, that day getting to experience helping these people who do this just because they can and just because they want to who already had such a community – being able to help them do something much greater than what they usually do was my favorite experience.”
McQuarrie is also a student mentor for the Rock Ambassador program, a freshman mentoring program. She is co-president of the student tutors at Rock North, which matches up students with their past teachers from elementary school to tutor their students for an hour after school.
Next year McQuarrie will begin her quest to become an astronautical engineer, an interest that was sparked by her passion for physics and math.
“And I’ve always been interested in space,” she said. “I always have found it interesting to understand how things work and how the world works.
“Especially when I was little, I was so perplexed by flight and space travel and understanding how something like that could fly and how rocket launching works. That’s really what did it for me. My goal would be to send a pig into space. That’s the life goal – to somehow get a job in astronautical engineering and send a pig to space.”
For the doubters, consider only that McQuarrie’s pigs have already visited Greece, Turkey, China, South Korea, Hungary, The Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Germany, Canada, and France.