At the age of 4, Meggie Dougherty Howard played her first soccer game and fell in love with the sport. Since then she has dreamed of playing soccer at the collegiate level.
That dream came true for Gators freshman Midfielder this season and she takes pride in wearing orange and blue for the Florida Gators.
“It’s so exciting, and such a great experience. I have so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to work really hard and play great,” said Dougherty Howard. “I’m so thankful to play for the Florida Gators, it truly is an incredible opportunity.”
Before Dougherty Howard debuted at Florida, she was an all- Pinellas County first team selection in 2013 by the Tampa Bay Times and captain of her high school soccer team at St. Petersburg Catholic High School- where her team reached the 2013 Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A regional final. In addition, she participated in Elite Clubs National League and US Club Soccer 2012 ENCL/id2 National Training Camp at Nike World Headquarters.
Having accomplished so much at a young age makes Dougherty Howard determined to make her mark at the University of Florida, which is precisely what she is doing.
In fact, the young midfielder has played in all 9 of the Gators first games, which is rare for most freshmen, and says she is only getting started. “I just want to get better, learn a lot, and help the team in a positive way,” said Dougherty Howard. “My goal is to be the very best that I can be, so that is what I’m striving to do.”
In September of 2013, Dougherty Howard scored her first career goal for the Gators against Florida International, which gave Florida a 4-0 win.
“It was really exciting and such a great experience – definitely a moment I will never forget,” said Dougherty Howard. “I’ve been working really hard and I’m just hoping that I can continue to improve.”
Dougherty Howard wears her motivation to improve with the number 28 jersey for the Gators.
Initially, she chose number 28 for her mom. But, with a little help from Gator nation, it didn’t take long for Dougherty Howard to discover she wears the same number professional soccer player, two time gold medalist, and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the year, Abby Wambach wore while playing for the Gators.
“I wasn’t even aware when I picked it. I actually picked the number because it’s my mom’s birthday and she has been really influential and supportive of me throughout soccer. But I’m just so honored to have the same number as Abby,” said Dougherty Howard. “I know that I have big shoes to fill, obviously. So I hope that I can just show respect to Abby and just play really well and live up to her standards.”
With three more years of collegiate play, she has plenty of time. For now though, Dougherty Howard is working toward a business degree, and hopeful of one day playing professional soccer.