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The secret to her success: Get up early and fear nothing The (early) rise of Casady's Leigh McCoy

The secret of All-American field hockey player’s success: Wake up early and fear nothing

by Jenni Carlson Modified: June 8, 2007 at 10:40 pm •  Published: June 8, 2007
They'd watched her. They'd also decided they wanted her to visit campus.

Less than a month later, McCoy signed with Harvard.

"I wanted to go somewhere I could really challenge myself academically,” she said.

Accepting the challenges
Leigh McCoy decided before her senior year to take Calculus BC, an accelerated class covering a full year of college-level calculus. Several teachers discouraged her from taking it, not because of the material but because of her schedule.

"I can do this,” McCoy insisted.

She arrived at school by 6:30 every morning to get extra help. She made A's except for one test. It pushed her cumulative grade below an A, so she had to take the final.

"It's so upsetting,” she said. "I'm very bitter about it.”

She was joking.

Sort of.

In addition to a full load of advanced classes, McCoy worked as editor of the yearbook. She worked an hour before class, an hour or two during the day and another hour after class. The standard was high since Casady won national awards for the best K-12 yearbook the past seven years.

Taylor Lane and Courtney Martin, two of McCoy's best friends, worked on the yearbook, too.

"I felt like I should be getting a salary for it,” Lane joked.

But they know no one worked harder than McCoy.

"You didn't want to say anything mean to her,” Lane said. "She probably would have thrown you out.”

McCoy admitted: "There were those days when I'd just break down and freak out. ‘This will be the worst yearbook ever.'”

By all accounts, that didn't happen.

"She never appeared to me to be afraid to do what she wanted to do,” said Erickson, the coach who also served at McCoy's adviser. "I'd like to say there was something magical, but from the time she was a child, there was something special about her.”

Time out for TV
For all that she does, there's one time Leigh McCoy refuses to work.

When reality TV is on.

"Which is really embarrassing,” she said. "Those are awful TV shows, but I really like them.”

A perfect teen, she is not. She's forever talking on her cell phone, doesn't always keep her room clean and sometimes she even sleeps — gasp — until 5:30 on a school morning.

"She's a very normal kid in a lot of ways,” her father said. "But she gets a lot done. We'd like to be able to take credit, but she's done a lot on her own.”

Done a lot well, too. has disabled the comments for this article.
by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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