Mackenzie Walter grew up playing soccer in and around Hollidaysburg.
She honed her skills in and around Hollidaysburg. She learned about winning in and around ... well, you get the picture.
It was only appropriate, then, that when it came time to decide where the senior Lady Tiger was going to play at the collegiate level, she chose someplace close to home.
"With it being a small campus, the student-to-teacher ratio was a big thing for me and with it being so close to home, this was an easy choice for me," Walter said recently in talking about signing her letter-of-intent to play at St. Francis University this fall. "My family comes to a lot of events and that was important for me.
Walter, who is no stranger to postseason play in her four years at Hollidaysburg, heads to a Red Flash program fresh off a season in which coach Brenda van Stralen's team won the Northeast Conference and made it to the NCAA Tournament.
"They had one of their best seasons ever last year and they had a lot of freshman that got a lot of playing time," said Walter, who will be on scholarship in Loretto. "Being with a good group of young players is something I think would be a good match for me."
A four-year starter in high school, Walter totaled 78 goals and 32 assists. She was on a district championship team her freshman year, made it to the district semifinals her sophomore and junior years and the finals her senior year.
Walter believes her scholastic career got her ready for the next level.
"Starting as a freshman and making it to states was a big help for me," she said.
Dave Soellner, who was Walter's coach her last three seasons, first noticed what kind of player she was back when he coached her in eighth grade.
"You could really see she would be successful in whatever she chose to do," he said.
Walter is looking forward to making the transition to college under van Stralen.
"She is a very understanding, very talkative coach who if you are doing something wrong, she will tell you about it," Walter said. "She tells you what she expects from you. She is straight-forward. That is what I need."
The 5-foot-4 Walter, who will major in exercise physiology, was also looking at West Virginia and Frostburg State in Maryland.
"What she lacks in size she makes up for in skill and in heart," Soellner said. "She loves the game to no end. I told her when she gets there it will be just like high school again, but with what she brings to the table, St. Francis will be able to utilize her and she'll be successful, just like they were this past year."