LAKE CHARLES - McNeese Cowgirl soccer head coach Drew Fitzgerald has announced the signings of three players on National Signing Day on Wednesday - Jackie Kelly, Kaile Kukaua and Amanda Whiting, all from California.
“After last year’s class ended up bigger than we originally planned, we needed the 2021 class to be smaller,” said Fitzgerald. “We managed to do that, while still bringing in three excellent student-athletes. All of our California players have come in and fit into our culture and I expect more of the same from this trio. They all played in the now-defunct Girl’s Development Academy, which was the top league for club soccer in the country.”
Jackie Kelly - Goalkeeper - Lamorinda GA - Benicia, California
Kelly is the starting goalkeeper for Lamorinda Soccer Club U19 team in the Development Academy, which finished in the top five in the nation overall and top of their conference. She and her team only conceded four goals in the DA, which was the lowest in the entire country.
A principal’s scholar honor roll member at Benicia High school, Kelly won a district-wide engineering award and is a member of the National Honor Society. She volunteered at many environmental clean-up events, the 2020 election, youth clinics, at local elementary schools and is an active member of Saint Dominic’s Parish.
She is the daughter of Jim and Rose Kelly and has one brother, Andy.
“Jackie is a big-time athlete who is just a gamer. She’s competitive, fearless and is capable and comfortable making a game-saving save. She is good with the ball at her feet and is a great addition to our goalkeeping group. Her team was one of the top in the DA and her leadership was a big reason for that.”
Kaile Kukaua - Midfield/Forward - LA Surf GA - Valencia, California
Kukaua is currently a team captain for LA Surf in the Girls Academy, after previously being on the same club in the DA. She scored three goals this year in a shortened season and was one of the conference leaders last year with eight goals.
Kaile attends Valencia High School where she has been on the Principal’s Honor Roll all four years. A member of the California Scholastic Federation and National Honors Society, she is also on the board of directors for an environmental club.
She is the daughter of Gary and Marsha Kukaua. She is the younger sister of current Cowgirl sophomore midfielder Kiana Kukaua and her sister’s Kelsey (Master’s College) and Kayla (Dominican University of California) also played soccer at the collegiate level. Her father Gary played baseball at Pepperdine.
“We have been familiar with Kaile for a few years now because of Kiana, but it was last year when she came to our ID camp that she really got on our radar. She is quick, creative and has a relentless motor. I am glad she wanted to play with her sister and are excited she is part of our program.”
Amanda Whiting - Midfielder - Pateadores GA - Glendale, California
Whiting currently is a member of the Pateadores Girls Academy, which plays in the newly formed, Girls Academy. She previously played up two age groups with OC Surf U19 in the DA. She had three goals last season and was twice named one of the DA’s “Weekly Standouts”: in October 2019 and November 2017. An avid futsal player, Whiting was also a member of the Futboleros soccer freestyle team for whom she was able to juggle in the Rose Parade, at halftime at LA Galaxy games and on national television.
Since the DA didn’t allow players to play high school, Amanda will be competing in her first high school season this year for Campbell Hall. She is also a member of the cross country and track and field teams. She has been named to the Academic Honor Roll every year and is a weekly volunteer as a youth leader at Christian Assembly.
She is the daughter of Jim and Julie Whiting and has one brother, Matthew.
“First and foremost, Amanda is tough. She competes for everything and is tough in a tackle. She will bring some ball-winning in the air to our team but also possesses a creative side. She’s very technical and can be a deep-lying playmaker for us.”