Chiara Menegatti, a junior on the Towson High School girls’ varsity soccer team, was named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month.
Menegatti was nominated by Generals head coach Lauren Hanley.
“She just epitomizes sportsmanship on and off the field,” Hanley said. “She works so hard. She just has the best attitude and outlook, the way she approaches every practice and game. And she really is a true team player. She just wants the best for her team and the best for her teammates. She’s always willing to help out.”
Towson went 10-4-1 this year, making it to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 3A North semifinals before losing, 3-0, to Hereford. Prior to that, the Generals made it to the Baltimore County championship game, losing to Sparrows Point, 2-1. It was the first time in 15 years Towson had made it to the county title game.
The catalyst for the Generals’ success, according to Hanley, was Menegatti, a center attacking midfielder who posted five goals and nine assists this year. Menegatti, who also plies her trade with the Towson-based Premier Soccer Club, excels in transition.
“I like to try to possess the ball throughout the midfield and try to distribute it more to the outside with through balls to the forwards,” Menegatti said. “I think most importantly being able to constantly possess the ball without it giving it away most the time is a really good way to work the ball up the field. Instead of just dribbling, string together a lot of passes.”
Hanley says Menegatti’s consistent work ethic and attitude stand out.
“Always in her mind it’s, ‘What can I do to get better?’ There’s nothing she ever takes for granted,” Hanley said. “She doesn’t think, ‘Oh, I deserve this,’ or, ‘I’m going to be captain, I’m going to start.’ She has a very humble approach to her performance and her place on the team. She really does lead by example with her work ethic on and off the field.”
Menegatti makes an impact on Towson High School away from the soccer pitch, too. She’s on the Generals’ indoor and outdoor track teams. She’s a member of the Spanish Honor Society, One Love Club and the Student-Athlete Leadership Team. Menegatti tutors others as part of SHS. With One Love Club, she helps raise awareness about healthy relationships and has taken part in winter coat drives and spring canned food drives for women’s shelters. With SALT, she has helped plan spirit weeks and worked concession stands.
Menegatti is proud of her work outside of Towson High, too.
“I also work a soccer camp over the summer for [kids],” Menegatti said. “This is affiliated with a group called More Than Futbal that does camps like that and also goes to Belize and Nicaragua. I used to participate as a camper, but I’ve been trying to plan to see if I’d be able to go with that group to Nicaragua and Belize, but I haven’t had a chance yet.”
Though Menegatti has another year at Towson, she has an eye on her future. Her dream schools are Virginia Tech and William & Mary; her father, Scott, went to Virginia Tech. She’d like to study biology or forensics in college, and she should have plenty of opportunities to be successful.
“She’s just a dream to coach,” Hanley said. “She’s just such a kind, humble player. She’s always the first one to show up, the last to leave. She’s just so positive on and off the field.”
Felix Rivera, a senior captain on the Rockville High School boys’ varsity soccer team, was also named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month.
Rivera was nominated by Rams head coach Julio Zarate.
“He’s a good kid. He’s responsible. In the four years since I met him, he’s always given his best effort on the pitch and at school,” Zarate said. “I never hear any problems in regards to homework, in regards to schooling. He always performs the best that he can. On the pitch, he’s a good player, hard worker, our leader. You almost never have to tell him twice to do a task on the field, always willing to help his teammates.”
Rockville made it to the MPSSAA Class 3A final before losing, 1-0, to Hereford. Rivera, a forward, scored 50 goals throughout his four-year career for the Rams, including 16 as a senior. He said his relationship with Zarate helped him grow throughout his career.
“Going into it, I was always that shy, little timid kid, but then he saw something in me,” Rivera said. “He gave me the confidence that I needed every single day. He kept pushing me. That confidence led to me wanting to show him that everything he’s done for me is not for nothing. I just put more effort into everything. My senior year, especially, he told me I was going to be the captain. He gave me that confidence that I needed.”
Rivera returned Zarate’s trust in spades. Zarate said Rivera was helpful in keeping players on the right track academically, particularly because Zarate doesn’t teach at Rockville.
“He was my eyes and ears in the school,” Zarate said. “He took the role that I was supposed to take if I was a teacher in terms of making sure that everything was done correctly.”
Rivera began playing soccer as a child in the Rockville-Silver Spring area, but he also got opportunities to take part in soccer camps in California, Florida, New York and Spain growing up. He plans to play soccer in college, and among the possibilities is Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia. Rivera will be the first in his family to graduate from high school, and he has big plans for college, too.
“I definitely want to study business,” Rivera said. “Along with business as well I want to study something involved in the sport of soccer. I kind of wanted to be a coach if soccer didn’t work out full time.”
To nominate a student-athlete for the U.S. Army Impact Player award, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Impact.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Debora Fochini and Felix Rivera