Though she was an elite, multi-sport athlete in college, with many highlights in her career, Cathy Poor chooses an early-season soccer game as her most memorable moment. It was Sept. 15, 2001, and Poor thought it was too soon after the tragedy for her Amherst team to be playing. "I couldn't imagine stepping on the field and being aggressive against anyone at that moment," says Poor.
After a moving pregame ceremony, Poor took the field against Bates College with tears streaming' down her cheeks and with red, white and blue electrical tape wrapped around her socks. Then the whistle blew, and everything changed. "We just flowed effortlessly," Poor says of the Amherst squad, which won that day 2-0. "It was like everyone was supporting each other perfectly. I stepped off the field stronger than when I had stepped on, more ready to face what we had to face."
Defeating adversity is nothing new for Poor, 23. During her junior year at Deerfield (Mass.) Academy, after months of constant sadness and uncontrollable crying, her condition was diagnosed as depression. With the help of medication she has overcome the illness's debilitating symptoms and the feeling of shame that often accompanies depression. "It was a great struggle," says Poor. "Admitting that I needed some outside help in the form of medication was a big step for me."
Poor pushes herself hard. After helping the Lord Jeffs reach their first Division III championship game last season, she graduated as Amherst's career leader in goals (41) and points (105). In the winters she turned to diving, a sport she hadn't even tried until high school. Last year she finished eighth in the nation on both the one-and three-meter springboards. "She worked harder than any diver I've ever had," says Amherst diving coach Mandy Hixon. "Her tenacity helped her rise above divers who were more experienced and, probably, more talented."
Poor graduated magna cum laude with a double major in chemistry and biology. She plans to get a Ph.D. in chemistry, but first she will head to England to try out for semipro soccer. "I know I can be in a chemistry lab when I'm 50," Poor says, "but I can't play soccer then."