Helping hold the teams defense to a very high standard, senior captain defensive back Gabbi McArtor brings a top of the line work ethic every time she steps onto the field. An elementary education major, McArtor hopes to transfer her leadership skills from the soccer field into the classroom. McArtor just recently was offered and accepted a future internship, an opportunity that is well deserved and something that she will take full advantage of after graduating from Illinois State.
Growing up in Palatine, McArtor was raised to play soccer by her mother and father. Starting at just five years old, she began with local recreational leagues. As years went by, McArtor realized she had a growing passion.
"When I was about 10 years old, I was playing and all of a sudden I realized I was becoming coordinated, more athletic," McArtor said. "I started to do things with the ball that I was never able to do before. At that point I knew that I loved soccer and wanted to pursue it for as long as I could."
Around junior high school, McArtor joined a club team considered to be one of top in the nation, Eclipse Select. Throughout high school, she travelled around the country with Eclipse. She was part of a team that won seven state cup championships along with a U-16 national championship. Along with club soccer, McArtor also played her senior year for Palatine High School, leading her team to a regional championship. Since the very beginning, McArtor has always had the leadership to help lead her team to victory.
McArtor has always been one of the shorter players on every team that she has been on. However, height has never been a factor as McArtor uses her hustle and agility to make up for the height differential. Standing at just 5-foot-1, she is the shortest player listed on the Redbird roster. McArtor uses this as an advantage when she takes on her opponents.
"I try to never really look at it that way, I just try to tell myself my ability makes up for everything else," McArtor said. "My speed is what makes me who I am; I think it actually goes hand in hand with me being shorter. I like the challenge - it goes right along with being a captain."
Heart over height, McArtor truly brings the best work ethic every time she steps onto the field. McArtor is not a record breaker; she does not have the personal accolades compared to teammates Aryn Newsom and Rachel Tejada. But Gabbi McArtor is a big part of ISU's success on and off the field.
"It's not all about the personal awards," McArtor said. "Yeah, it's nice to be recognized, but that's not what it's all about. I can't control accolades, that's not the most important thing to me. I just want to be a role model to my teammates. I try to keep the teams spirits the highest they can be."
Head coach Drew Roff holds McArtor to very high expectations every time she laces up to lead her team.
"We require Gabbi to cover a ton of ground. We expect her to defend 1v1, along with getting on the attack," Roff said. "She makes sprint after sprint; she's tireless. Gabbi is tremendous and she's always sharp. When she's sharp she gives us a whole another dimension. She really is a team leader."
McArtor helped lead ISU to a 2-0 victory over Missouri State Sunday at Adelaide Street Field. Dominating all over the field, McArtor led the Redbirds in an all around attack. Tejada netted both of the games goals, one an assist from McArtor.
ISU finished the game with a 24-5 shot advantage. McArtor, along with goalkeeper Newsom, led the team to its fourth shutout of the season. Newsom made two saves in goal.
"Our defense was outstanding; we didn't give them a lot of chances" Roff said. "Gabbi plays with a huge heart. She always brings the best work ethic to the table."
Graduating in Spring 2015, McArtor has already begun to look into her future as an educator. Last Friday, she applied for a teaching internship back home in Palatine. Not even a week later, McArtor was informed that she was accepted into the position. In just a few months she will find herself in familiar ground back in her hometown, this time as a full time teacher and not a student. Her selflessness as a player on the soccer field has helped her grow as a person throughout her career here at ISU. Now, she is confident the traits she built as a Redbird will carry on into the classroom, this time leading students instead of her teammates.
"Soccer has taught me a lot. ISU has taught me a lot," McArtor said. "What I learned on the field, it taught me to be a captain, how to be a leader. That's one of the biggest parts about being a teacher. I'm really hoping what I've learned as a soccer player will turn me into the best educator I can be."
McArtor's selflessness on and off the field has presented her with so many opportunities in life. She credits her coaches and family for turning her into the person she is today.
"My coaches deserve a lot of credit. Rory Dames from Eclipse helped me as a little kid. Drew [Roff] is an incredible coach and person," McArtor said. "All the teammates I've ever played with, theyre all the reason why I work hard. Without them I wouldn't be the person I am today. My parents definitely pushed me as I grew up to love soccer; it wasn't always my number one interest. They got me to the point to realize to become the best player I can be, to be something bigger than myself."
With just a handful of games remaining in the season, McArtor is excited not just for the rest of her soccer stint here at ISU, but what lies beyond that. As graduation approaches, McArtor will prepare for one of the biggest changes in her life next fall.
"I know it will be a hard transition but I'm ready for the challenge," McArtor said. "ISU has been a blast and playing for this soccer program has taught me so much. When I heard I received the internship, I took a step back to realize what is in store for my future. Soccer isn't going to last forever. I'm going to be a teacher. It'll be sad when soccer is over, but I'm excited for the opportunity presented to me. I'll be going back to the same district I was raised and taught in. I hope that I'll be able to be the best I can to the kids who will be in front of me."
McArtor will step into the position as a full two-year teacher instead of a regular graduate teaching position. As part of a professional development program, McArtor will be in the classroom for a full year, being able to teach kids every day of the week. After playing soccer competitively for over 15 years, this will be a big transition that McArtor is ready to face.
"My passion to make the ones around me better is what drives me," McArtor said. "I control what I can control, I try to lead by example. On and off the field, the most important thing is being that person people can look up to. I just want people around me to be inspired."
A true leader on the field, McArtor is ready to face life after college. A couple months may remain in Gabbi McArtor's collegiate career, but her future still leads her to take part of something that she has a true passion for: being a leader. When McArtor takes her final steps onto Adelaide Street Field, she will leave knowing she has made an impact on the program, ready to make an impact on her future. She will carry on her traits she built as a Redbird into the classroom where she will lead children as they grow up, hopefully turning them into the same person Gabbi McArtor has become today.