NO. 35

Head over Heels

Nel Fettig's versatility made her one of the country's top women's soccer players at the University of North Carolina.

Every summer as she was growing up, Nel Fettig spent as much time riding inside a car as outside it. The Bishop Luers High School student would travel around the country and even to Europe playing and practicing soccer, and she quickly became the most-dominating player on almost every field, either as an offensive force or a defensive presence.

In 1993 at age 17 she was the youngest player to compete in a U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio. That same year she became the youngest player ever on the United States' 20-and-younger women's national team.

When she wasn't playing soccer, Fettig was also a nationally ranked junior tennis player who could mix things up by switching from her left hand to using a right-hand serve without any loss of velocity. Sometimes she would switch hands during a short volley at the net to confuse opponents.

After leading Bishop Luers to three state high school Final Four soccer appearances and being named the National High School Player of the Year in 1994, Fettig chose national powerhouse North Carolina for college. The North Carolina coaches felt she could become soccer's version of Bobby Orr -- the defensive player who keyed the offense.

The Tar Heels won three NCAA titles during Fettig's career, and she was twice named a first-team All-America defender. Twice she was named one of the 11 best defensive players in the country, and was also an Academic All-American.

Fettig played 102 games for North Carolina, scoring seven goals and 39 assists. She's currently working as an assistant coach on the women's soccer team at Northwestern University.

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