Tech Defender is Small, but very fierce
Defensive minded: Oregon Tech senior Mackenzie Garton has been an asset on the Hustlin’ Owls’ defense since coming to Klamath Falls from McLoughlin High School in Milton-Freewater.(H&N photo by Andrew Mariman)
By STEVE MATTHIES H&N Sports Editor
One of Oregon Tech’s most diminutive athletes, Mackenzie Garton also is one of its most fierce competitors.
The 5-foot-3 senior has anchored the defense for the OIT women’s soccer side and is a significant reason the Hustlin’ Owls are tough to score against in their battle for the postseason.
“I just try to play as hard as I can, and if that means I have to sacrifice my body, I do it,” the 21-year-old Garton says. “But, playing sports gets tougher every year. My body ages faster. Plus, when you get to upper-division classes, you need better time management.”
The civil engineering major will graduate in March, which is three months earlier than a four-year career.
She seriously looked at only one other college, Montana Tech, before she left home in Milton-Freewater for OIT.
“Between the fact my sister (Brittany) was here, I could play soccer and the financial aid compared to other schools, I came here,” says Garton, a McLoughlin High graduate.
Her original intentions were to major in environmental engineering, but she opted for a civil major because the former was part of the civil engineering degree she will receive from OIT.
“I want to do geotechnical engineering,” she says.
Her beginnings at OIT included one season with the women’s basketball team.
“It was tough to go from being a starter to riding the pine,” she says. “Plus, I had my commitment to school. School is the reason I decided to quit (basketball). If I had continued to play, I would have needed a fifth year (to graduate).”
Garton twice has traveled to Tanzania with OIT’s Engineers Without Borders group to work on water projects.
“That taught me to be appreciative of all the things we’ve been given here,” she says. “Here, you can walk into your home, turn the knob and have clean water. You don’t have to walk miles to get a little water, but those people are happy.
“I learned that you don’t take things for granted.”
Career not as hoped
Even though there have been moments during her soccer career that have not gone as she would have hoped, Garton says she would make the same choices she has made over the last four years.
“The experience has made me a better person, and to think of others,” she says. “I have always valued hard work. I am not the most skilled person, so if I am going to make up the difference, I have to work harder than others.”
That is good for the Hustlin’ Owls, and tough for opponents.
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