Written By: Tom Lange
Naomi Ferguson understands and appreciates the attributes of sacrifice and commitment. How she embodies those attributes serves as her life compass and contributed to her being a 2020 Carl Fricks Sportsmanship Scholarship recipient from the St. Louis Sports Commission.
In August, Ferguson will progress from the academic rigors at MICDS and the soccer training at St. Louis Scott Gallagher when she begins her freshman year – both academically as well as athletically via soccer – at Brown University.
That’s quite an accomplishment for anyone but consider this: Ferguson has overcome two ACL injuries along the way. Her positive attitude is obvious and infectious.
“I was depressed a little and sad for a long time after my first ACL injury, which happened a month after I attended the youth national team camp,” Ferguson said. “I ultimately decided that I couldn’t keep dwelling on it, what’s done is done and I decided to be positive about what was ahead of me.”
Two years later, a second ACL tear ended her MICDS season but she continued supporting the team the following season, her junior year, as its manager. Her coaches and teachers use words like character, compassion, dignity and leadership to describe her.
“I am a firm believer that unfortunate events happen for a reason in order to help shape who we are through character building,” she said. “Tearing my ACL put me through a lot of emotional and physical stress but what I got out of the process was unlike anything I have been through.”
One of Ferguson’s most formative experiences came during an 18-day trip to South Africa.
“I was volunteering at a pre-school in Cape Town where the kids all had no shoes, they lived with no running water and no electricity,” she said. “But they were always smiling and were the happiest kids I have ever seen in my life. It made me really appreciate what I have.”
Ferguson volunteered at the Northside Community School during her first three years at MICDS. Covid-19 kept her from doing the same her senior year.
“My parents didn’t come from much as kids themselves and preached that they would always do anything for their own kids,” Ferguson said. “They showed that by giving me the best opportunities in soccer, in school, and with the trainers (from the ACL injuries). That trip to South Africa was not cheap, either. They made sacrifices for me, including sometimes other bills not being paid right away so they could pay tuition.
“I want to work hard and make the best I can of everything because of what they have done for me.”
While the pandemic shut down the 2020 prep soccer season, MICDS eventually was able to conduct an in-person graduation ceremony on the schools’ turf field that hosted soccer games, enabling Ferguson to take the field one last time – and walk off with her diploma.