by Ashley Mahoney
Charlotte is filled with stories of successful female athletes. We asked local female sports writer Ashley Mahoney to showcase a few we should know about. From high schools to collegiate programs, in town and around the country, meet these Charlotte Female Amateur Athletes.
Claudia Dickey (UNC Chapel Hill)
Dickey won big in high school at Charlotte Latin, playing soccer and basketball.
With the Hawks’ soccer team, she won four consecutive North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state championships, earning All-Conference every year and All-State her sophomore through senior seasons. In 2017, she earned second team All-America honors.
Primarily a goalkeeper, she did play as a midfielder during her junior year. She has also played for the United States Women’s National Youth team at the under-18, under-19, and under-20 levels.
As a basketball player, she earned All-State and All-Conference her junior and senior seasons. Her senior season saw Charlotte Latin clinch a tie for first in the conference.
The story has not changed for her in college. They clinched the ACC regular season title over the weekend in their 2-0 win against Miami, improving to a 14-2-1 record. Dickey has started six of her 14 appearances at Chapel Hill. They wrap the regular season up against Wake Forest on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m., heading to the ACC tournament in Cary Oct. 28 through Nov. 4. While she already has one collegiate accolade to her name, she did not sign with the Tarh Heels on a soccer scholarship. Coach Sylvia Hatchell brought Dickey in on a full basketball scholarship. Stay tuned for how her inaugural basketball season begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Elon.
Mary Elliott McCabe (UNC Chapel Hill)
McCabe joined fellow freshman Dickey on the journey up I-85 from Charlotte Latin to Chapel Hill. While Dickey has seen more playing time during their first season, McCabe’s resume with the Hawks looks similar. The midfielder earned All-State her sophomore through senior seasons, and earned All-Conference throughout her entire high school career. As a senior, she received recognition as an All-America and a Scholar All-America.
Abby Stapleton (UNC Charlotte)
Stapleton, a goalkeeper, attended Charlotte Catholic, earning a place on the 2016 All-Region team. A sophomore with the 49ers, Stapleton proved an immediate impact player. Coach John Cullen started her as a freshman in a season that saw them return to the Conference USA tournament final, which they lost on penalty kicks. She earned a spot on the All-Freshman conference team, and remains Charlotte’s No. 1 choice in goal, starting each of her 36 appearances for the program. Charlotte hosts Rice in their regular season finale on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. They head to Norfolk, Virginia for the Conference USA Tournament Oct. 31 through Nov. 4, hoping to advance to the final for a third consecutive season.
Kate Hickson (UNC Charlotte)
Hickson, a sophomore defender, graduated early from Providence, enrolling at Charlotte in the 2017 spring semester. She left the Panthers with a state title.
Ahlana Smith (University of California, Los Angeles)
Smith, a freshman guard, attended Mallard Creek her junior and senior year, but spent her first two years at Vance. Her senior season with the Mavericks resulted in a spot on the All-MeCKa 4A First Team. She also earned State Tournament MVP.
The Bruins open the regular season at Loyola Marymount on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Shareka McNeill (Virginia Union)
McNeill’s freshman season with the Panthers shows signs for a successful collegiate career. She earned a spot on the preseason All-CIAA team heading into her sophomore season. The Harding High alumnae earned CIAA Rookie of the Year on a team that clinched the CIAA Tournament title and the regular season tournament crown, finishing 28-3. She averaged 12.5 points per game and 1.4 steals, and finished her first campaign with the Panthers as their all-time leading freshman scorer with 387 points. She also maintained a 4.0 GPA, pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Coach AnneMarie Gilbert has taken the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament every season since taking over as head coach in 2015. She led the Panthers to the Division II national championship game, where they fell short, the season before McNeill arrived. She has built a program that excels on the national stage. She discovered Shareka and her twin sister Shameka, who also plays for the Panthers, during their CIAA Tournament community service project at Harding. She described them as two players who flew under the radar, and whom she believes have the ability to play at the Division I level.
The Panthers open against Cheyney University of Pennsylvania at home on Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Shameka McNeill (Virginia Union)
McNeill followed the desire of her twin sister Shareka to Richmond, Virginia, who wanted to attend a college outside of their hometown. Like her sister, the sophomore guard provided an immediate impact for the Panthers. She averaged 8.2 points per game and 1.7 steals per game. She also earned a spot on the preseason All-CIAA team.
TRACK & FIELD
Anna Cockrell (University of Southern California)
A junior All-America hurdler and sprinter for the Trojans, Cockrell’s specialties at the 100-meter hurdles, the 400-meter hurdles and the 4×400-meter relay. She ranks second in the relay, fourth in the 400-meter hurdles and third in the 100-meter hurdles in USC history.
The Trojans open at the Dr. Martin Luther King Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico Jan. 18-19.
In addition to her role as a USC captain, she is studying communication with a minor in political science, earning a spot on the Dean’s list each semester thus far.
She may be the younger sister of Carolina Panthers cornerback Ross Cockrell, but her athletic accomplishments speak for themselves.
Sarah Jane Atkinson (Queens University of Charlotte)
Queens has a stellar swimming program. Atkinson earned All-America recognition as a freshman in the 200-yard breaststroke. She also earned All-Conference honors in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard breaststroke.
A Charlotte native, Atkinson was homeschooled prior to attending Queens. Now a sophomore, she is studying new media design.
Next up for the Royals: Fall Frenzy Invitational Nov. 16-18 at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Uptown.
HIGH SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT
Skyy Howard (Mallard Creek)
Howard is a North Carolina commit. The 6-foot-3 middle hitter has been a consistent contributor with the Mavericks throughout her four years on varsity, on a team that consistently makes North Carolina High School Athletic Association play (NCHSAA). She has 1,274 career kills over 313 sets for the Mavericks. The Mavericks (23-8) entered postseason play ranked third in the West, with a BYE to start the 4A playoffs. They beat South Mecklenburg 3-0 in the second round on Oct. 25, and Jack Britt 3-0 in the third round on Oct. 27. They face the winner of No. 2 Ardrey Kell vs. No. 7 Panther Creek in the fourth round on Oct. 30. The winner advances to regionals on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The 4A state championship takes place at noon on Nov. 3 at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum.
Golf state championships took place Oct. 22-23 for both NCISAA and the NCHSAA. Schools like Hough and Charlotte Latin had athletes competing in Pinehurst for a shot at a state title.
Chloe Pittman (Hough)
Pittman, a junior, began golfing two years ago. She finished seventh at the NCHSAA 4A state championships at Pinehurst Country Club Oct. 22-23.
Alexis Sudjianto (Charlotte Latin)
Sudjianto, a senior, earned All-State and All-State each season with the Hawks. She served as a captain this season, on a team that finished second in the NCISAA Division I state tournament. She finished third in the state tournament at the Country Club of Whispering Pines.
Ashley Mahoney covers professional, college and community sports as well as arts and culture at The Charlotte Post, an award-winning weekly publication. Her weekly recipe feature, Table Charlotte, allows people to create healthy recipes on a budget. Queen City Football Chronicle, a branch of The Post, covers collegiate through professional soccer exclusively in the Charlotte area. Between assignments and practicing yoga, she can be found throughout the city consuming far too much coffee.
This article is one of many in our newest series highlighting the Charlotte women doing great things to make our town the vibrant, growing, exciting place we all call home. If we missed your favorite female athlete, please do comment with her info below so all can see and share in your pride.