Standouts In Their Sports — Ally McCarthy, Caleb Smith Are ‘Newtown Bee’ NHS Athletes Of The Year
University of Connecticut-bound track and soccer star Ally McCarthy, and rising Newtown High School senior football and track and field standout Caleb Smith are the Newtown Bee’s Newtown High School Athletes of the Year for the 2021-22 school year.
McCarthy and Smith had stellar seasons both this past school year and in past campaigns. Additionally, both displayed tremendous sportsmanship as well as leadership and have been multi-sport competitors representing the Nighthawks throughout their high school careers.
McCarthy has compiled quite an athletic and academic resume. She earned All South-West Conference First Team accolades for track and field for her winter indoor and spring outdoor junior campaigns, and also earned All State for outdoor her junior year. She received All SWC and All State recognition for soccer in her senior year, and earned All SWC, All State, and All New England recognition for indoor track her senior year. McCarthy earned Second Team and Honorable Mention All SWC accolades in her first two years.
This standout might have taken home even more hardware if not for the coronavirus impacting seasons, including cancelation of state tournaments and an entire spring season in 2020, and injuries playing a role this year.
McCarthy racked up quite a few records during her tenure at NHS. She is part of the indoor 4x800 and distance medley relays that set marks, as well as setting school standards in the 800 meter and 1000 meter indoor races. For outdoor, McCarthy set records in the 800, with the 4x800 and 4x400, as well as the sprint medley relay.
She also was part of the 4x400 relay that broke the SWC Championship meet record in her junior year.
McCarthy earned Newtown High’s Scholar Athlete Award this school year and got a spot on the All Conference Academic Team for each sport throughout her high school career. She helped the track team capture the SWC title this past winter; the Hawks were runner-up to Weston in each of her other seasons. Newtown High’s soccer team earned SWC championships in her freshman and sophomore campaigns, with McCarthy garnering MVP honors her sophomore year after the defender tightly marked a standout scorer on Notre Dame-Fairfield’s squad in the title game.
Marc Kenney, head coach of the NHS girls’ soccer team, said McCarthy not only did what was asked of her by coaches but also stepped up to help teammates. The team wore certain colored shirts to each practice and McCarthy always had extras in her car to assist teammates in need of a shirt, Kenney recalled.
Recruited for track, McCarthy’s 800 meter time of 2:15 is specifically what got her reeled in by the Huskies. McCarthy will study Exercise Science on a Physician Assistant track. One of the editors at Newtown High’s newspaper, Hawkeye, McCarthy hopes to help out with UConn’s paper, The Daily Campus.
“There will definitely be days I miss the high school experience for sports. I’ll definitely miss my teammates and coaches, but I’m super-excited to see what the future holds,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy, who worked as an intern covering sports for The Bee when she was not competing herself, during her senior year, played a variety of sports before focusing on track and soccer in high school, including basketball, lacrosse, cross country, and dance. She also works at Holy Cow Ice Cream Shop.
“She’s just a tremendous kid. I’m floored at how Ally manages a thousand different responsibilities,” said Kenney, who also taught McCarthy’s Journalism courses and oversaw her writing and editing at Hawkeye.
Becky Bourret, head coach of the girls’ indoor and outdoor track teams, and an assistant coach with the soccer team, has formed a unique coach-athlete bond with McCarthy throughout McCarthy’s entire high school career, and said she sets a tremendous example for teammates. Both Bourret and Becky Osborne, also a head track coach at NHS, describe McCarthy as a strong athlete who serves as an extension of sorts of the coaching staff with her leadership qualities.
“Ally has been a standout three-sport athlete for us for four years. She is a natural leader and one of the hardest working kids I have seen during my time as AD,” Newtown High Athletic Director Matt Memoli said.
Smith gets high praise from Bobby Pattison, his football coach and a social studies and economics teacher at Newtown High.
“Caleb is a phenomenal athlete and a better person. He will be a two-year captain for the football team. He was a two-way starter for us as a junior,” Pattison said of Smith, who was an All-Conference Second Team pick as a junior.
Smith, a running back and defensive back, said he likes the team atmosphere with football.
“He is a Swiss Army Knife. Caleb has all of the tools — fast, strong, explosive, physical; he excels on both sides of the ball. Caleb leads by example in the school and on the field,” Pattison added.
His versatility extends to the track and field program, where this sprinter branched out to compete in the season-ending state decathlon each of the last two years, coming in fifth place his junior year. The decathlon requires athletes compete in ten events: the 100 meter dash, 400 dash, 1500 meter run, 110 hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, shot-put, discus throw, and javelin throw.
“It’s extremely hard,” Bourret, who like Osborne works with both the girls’ and boys’ track squads in winter and spring, said of Smith allocating his time to practice each event for the decathlon.
Smith said because there is a limit to four events for track and field athletes in each regular-season meet, he rotated the decathlon activities and competes in each twice during the course of the spring season.
“It’s nice. It’s never the same. Some days it’s pole vault and some days it’s shot-put,” Smith said.
“Pole vaulting’s really fun to do — flying up in the air ten feet,” he said.
Smith admits his initial practice tries were a bit nerve-wracking. “I was terrified. You get used to it though,” he said.
A big difference between football and track is the amount of socialization with opponents that takes place. In football, teams have their own sidelines and it is mostly a physical battle that ensues before postgame handshakes. When it comes to track and field, the competing athletes socialize a bit between events and turns within each event. With several of the top decathletes being juniors, there is another year for Smith and his decathlon rivals from other schools to engage in friendly competition.
“We all get to know each other. It’s going to be a reunion of sorts,” Smith anticipates.
Osborne said Smith’s willingness to try out each of these events gives the team a look at where he can help provide single-event depth in SWC and state championships.
“He’s a great utility player,” Osborne said. “He’s one of the hardest-working, most dedicated kids I’ve ever met. He’s a talented athlete.”
Osborne said what she likes best about Smith is that he knows when it is time to focus at practice.
“When it’s time to work he’s the first one to the line,” Osborne said. “He’s a great addition to any team and I’m happy he’s on mine.”
Although being a decathlete might take away from opportunity to focus on a select few events, Smith has managed some standout performances, including winning the SWC championship in the javelin throw and placing second in the 100 dash while helping the Nighthawks place second as a team in the conference this past spring.
Smith has played a variety of sports including hockey — he was a goaltender on the ice when his family lived in North Carolina before moving to Newtown a few years ago.
“I’ve always done two or three sports — no off-seasons,” said Smith, who stays busy even when he isn’t practicing as he also works at Cover Two Sports Cafe.
He earned Second Team All SWC football accolades and was recognized with All Conference honors for indoor track (high jump) and outdoor track (javelin).
“Caleb is only a junior but is beyond his years as a track athlete and football player. He’s the kid I tell all of our freshman athletes they should watch and copy,” Memoli said.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.