It was yet another close clash between two of the top soccer programs in the Greater Spokane League and now it was headed into overtime – or so it seemed.
Ferris and Mead, a pair of high schools vying for the league crown, were tied at two goals apiece when Ferris senior McKenna Cutler kept her focus on a chance to win the game in regulation when most had already gazed past the possibility. When a ball near the Mead goal momentarily skid on the turf as the seconds ran down. Cutler was there – the opportunist with a lightning foot. The winning goal landed resolutely in the net and Ferris ran off the pitch with a stunning victory.
“Most players would have just fallen back but McKenna didn’t give up on it,” said Ferris head coach Robin Crain. “That was pretty typical of her. She was determined. She never gave up on anything.”
Cutler would tally another game-winning goal in a match against Lewis and Clark. In both the Mead and LC games, she contributed two goals, leading charges back from 2-1, second-half deficits in each contest. For the season, Cutler collected seven goals and five assists for a team that reached the state 4A quarterfinals for only the second time in school history.
On a roster of stellar players and citizens, Crain said Cutler was among those who led the way on and off the field.
“McKenna was a role model to her teammates,” Crain said. “She always did the work and never complained. She was just a great teammate.”
Cutler participated in soccer in each of her four years at Ferris, earning a varsity letter in three of those seasons. In her first year, she was named freshman MVP.
As each autumn turned, Cutler transitioned from soccer to basketball. She lettered two years on the varsity squad and was known for her relentless defense and competitiveness. She began competing in both basketball and soccer in the third grade.
“I really enjoy being busy in life and sports gave me something to do with my time,” McKenna said. “Sports taught me that I need to be patient with people and need to trust my team. They also taught me how to work hard, be dependable, be a leader and be punctual. It also teaches me that it is OK to lose sometimes, but with every loss there is a learning opportunity.”
When spring arrived, Cutler could be found at the track. The speed that served her so well in soccer and basketball would translate even more profoundly in events like the 400-meter dash where Cutler holds the third fastest time in school history at 58.82 seconds.
McKenna was a rare four-year varsity letter winner in track and served as team captain her senior year. In her signature event, she competed in districts and regionals all four years and advanced to the state meet in Tacoma as a senior, earning 10th among 4A runners. She was also part of the Saxons’ 4 x 200-meter state qualifying team.
McKenna’s legacy at Ferris also includes being one-fourth of the school record in the 4 x 100-meter relay and part of the second fastest 4 x 200 time. When her final track campaign concluded this spring, she was named team MVP.
When it comes to her support network, McKenna says her parents, Scott and Cari, have always been her number one fans. The family, which includes McKenna’s younger siblings Tae and Colby, is part of the Palouse Ward in the Spokane Stake.
“My parents never missed a meet or a game,” McKenna said. “They supported me through the tough ones and the good. They traveled across the state to watch less than 60 seconds and many games. I know they love and support me and that means a lot.”
Cutler says adhering to gospel standards has kept her on track for success in sports, school and life. She will attend BYU-Idaho in the fall and plans to earn a degree in the medical field.
“Church has helped me live better and be healthier,” she said. “It helped me set and achieve my goals Early morning seminary helped know that I can function early in the morning.”
With her principles and priorities clearly established, Cutler found that those who knew her developed a respect for where she stood and why.
“I had a few times where my teammates would ask others not to swear because I was around,” she said. I even had one game where the goalie was swearing and I asked her not to swear. She just laughed and said, ‘Did you really just say that?’ But she did stop.”
In cases where inappropriate media showed up in her social circles, Cutler exited as quickly as she would sprint down a straightaway.
“I set my standards high and made my teammates aware of my standards,” she said.
Cutler is considering serving a full-time mission after a year of school. For now, she will concentrate on acclimating to life and academics in Rexburg with sports still figuring into her agenda.
“I am going to play intermural soccer, so watch out,” she said.