Passion on the Pitch

Parish soccer player Grant McCarty leads his team against St. Mark’s on Jan. 5. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

If you’re looking for Grant McCarty, you can probably find him on a soccer field. That’s the way it’s been for the past few years for the Parish Episcopal sophomore, who plays both for his school and for the Solar Chelsea Red select squad in a year-round schedule of practices, travel, and games.

Last summer, the center midfielder helped lead Solar to a 15-and-under title at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, marking not only the highlight in McCarty’s young soccer career, but also a breakthrough for the prominent North Texas select program.

“Grant is such a hard-working player on the field that always gives 100 percent for his team. He has a quiet tenacity about him that few players have on the field,” said Solar Chelsea Red coach Chris Stricker. “He reads the game well and does a great job winning balls in the central midfield. He is typically on the other team’s best midfield player and shuts that player down.”

The championship squad — which outscored its opponents by a combined 60-1 at the state, regional, and national level — was comprised of players who, like McCarty, came from other teams in the area. Most hadn’t played together before.

“That was our goal, but at the beginning, I don’t think anybody thought we could make it,” said McCarty, who lives in Preston Hollow. “We knew we had something special going. We bonded really well. Everyone got close to each other.”

McCarty said he began playing soccer about 7 or 8 years ago and has found a home at center midfield, a position that requires a mix of offense and defense, and a combination of leadership skills and tactical ability.

“I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” said McCarty, who hopes to play college soccer after graduating in two years. “I’ve worked harder and harder to get to where I am today.”

McCarty’s current focus is on helping the Panthers reach the TAPPS playoffs. But he’s also busy helping Solar try to qualify for another run to the national championships with a team that returns most of its players and has recently traveled to tournaments from coast to coast.

“Grant is a guy that you love having on your team and the other teams hate playing against him, because he is so consistent,” Stricker said. “He makes our team better every time he is on the field. He is so valuable that he rarely comes off of the field.”