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ATHLETE OF THE YEAR | Caballero returns to top form for Wolves
Many of South Kitsap’s top female athletes focused on one sport.
That describes senior Miranda Caballero with one caveat — she excelled during that season.
Despite missing her entire junior season after undergoing surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, Caballero returned to earn Class 4A Narrows League co-MVP honors. And during the season she was out, South coach Julie Cain repeatedly mentioned how much the Wolves missed Caballero’s presence in the midfield.
For those reasons, Caballero was selected as the Port Orchard Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year.
“She’s very skilled and knows the game well, but she also outworks everyone,” Cain said. “When you put together natural talent with dedication … you get the package deal.”
Caballero is the latest Wolves’ girls soccer player to sign to play in college. But unlike recent graduates, such as Christina Boddie (Idaho), Riley Dopps (Seattle Pacific) and Brianna Smallidge (Seattle) and former teammate Becca Schoales (Washington), Caballero will not play in the Northwest. She signed with Middle Tennessee State University in February.
“It will be a change, but ever since I was little I’ve always wanted to go far away,” Caballero said. “My mom has always said that if I go away, I’ll grow more.”
Caballero likes MTSU for other reasons, as well. After growing up in Port Orchard, she likes the rural feel of Murfreesboro but also is happy to be within close proximity of Nashville, which houses the Country Music Hall of Fame. Caballero is an avid country music fan.
“I’ve always wanted to be kind of a country girl,” she said. “Tennessee is a good fit for me.”
In addition, Caballero hopes to pursue a medical degree at MTSU. She eventually wants to become an anesthesiologist. When she was two months old, doctors detected that Schoales had Kawasaki disease, a rare condition in children and infants that involves inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body. That inspired her desire to become a cardiologist.
For Caballero, surgery spawned a passion. She broke her nose during a club soccer match and required surgery.
“The surgery was over just like that,” Caballero said. “It was just intriguing.”
She said that experience led to her interest in becoming an anesthesiologist. Caballero and Schoales often joke about working together professionally.
“I’ll knock them out and you can perform the surgery,” Caballero said, laughing.
Cain expects Caballero to be successful both on and off the field at MTSU. The Blue Raiders, who finished with a 14-5-1 record last season, are moving from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.
“Miranda is just a great leader,” Cain said. “She has a presence that the rest of the team looks up to. I think she’ll be a very successful college player.”
Caballero’s only disappointment when it comes to her time with South was injuries, which hindered the school’s performance. The Wolves advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2011, but lost arguably the state’s best player, Schoales, last fall with an injury to her right knee.
“We obviously wanted to bring home something,” Caballero said. “But with all of those mishaps and injuries, it made it difficult.”