Cashing In At Stony Brook

June 21, 2001

Stony Brook, N.Y. - by Steve Marcus-Newsday

It is never too late to get an athletic scholarship. Proof positive is Kerri McCabe, who will receive a full scholarship in September to play soc-cer in her senior year at Stony Brook University.

McCabe could not believe it. Neither could her parents, Darlene and Paul, who have spent the last 10 years paying tuition for their four children to attend Stony Brook.

McCabe, a Sachem graduate, walked on to the women's soccer team as a freshman.

Now she's a scholarship athlete.

Soccer coach Sue Ryan has the check in hand. "I was very excited," said Mc-Cabe, who was informed of the scholarship last month. "I think my parents are even happier." And it is Ryan's pleasure to reward her team's most valuable player in the final year of her college eligibility.

"It means more to me to say, 'You earned this' than to say, 'I'm giving you $10,000,' " Ryan said. With tuition and room and board, the grant is actually worth $11,000.

For a family weary of college-related bills, it is akin to winning the lottery.

"We are thrilled," Darlene McCabe said of her daughter's grant. "We are at the point where we should be thinking about retirement. My husband is 58, but we've been busy with college. We were putting $300 a week away from our paychecks and took out a home equity loan." The college bill for all four of their children cost the McCabes more than $100,000, which included automobiles and expenses for each one.

Kerri McCabe's father is in law enforcement. Her mother had a part-time job at a packaging plant. "My paycheck was their allowance," said Darlene McCabe, referring to her soccer-playing children, who include Joe, Sean and Ryan. Joe, now 29, and Sean, 24, played soccer for Stony Brook but did not receive scholarship assistance.

And now, with her daughter preparing for her senior year, Mrs. McCabe was saving her money when Ryan told her to save her money.

"You don't expect them to do that in the last year when they have all those new recruits you can be giving it to," Darlene McCabe said.

Kerri McCabe was not destined for a scholarship when she left high school nearly four years ago.

"It didn't seem she was coming to have her schooling paid for by soccer," Ryan said. "She was an exceptional student and was happy playing soccer as part of the team. She seemed happy playing a month and a half during the season and then shelved it until the next year.'' McCabe's sophomore year brought a change in her attitude toward the sport.

"Her ability was starting to show through," Ryan said. "She and I had a conference and I told her she had to decide to make a commitment to this.

Or not. She became a different person.

She worked in the weight room and in our running program harder than any other athlete." McCabe is a dean's list student who is majoring in social science and hopes to be a radiologist, a physician who reads X-rays.

And as Stony Brook increased its athletic funding from three scholarships to nine, Ryan kept McCabe in mind.

"She did not ask for money and I don't think she expected anything," Ryan said of the forward, who had 13 goals and 19 assists last season. "As a player she has incredible technical and tactical ability.

She is utilizing all of her talent, squeezing and drip-drying it though.

She is taking every ounce of talent in her body and she is making it better.

You can't get more of a success story than Kerri McCabe." On the collegiate level, success is equal to athletic assistance.

"When you walk around campus, people ask you if you have money," McCabe said, referring to athletic aid.

"It's a big deal: 'Oh, you have money, you must be really good.' I'm really excited now. I tell that to a lot of people on my team. Those who don't receive money, I tell them if you work hard, Coach realizes all work eventually does pay off. If you put in the effort, she will reward you in the end." With the money her parents are saving, McCabe hopes to get a new car.

"We are thinking about it," Darlene McCabe said.

One scholarship drive ends, another begins.