Former soccer star Montgomery takes reins as new Ardrey Kell girls coach

by Andrew Stark

Kim Montgomery has been named the new girls soccer coach at Ardrey Kell High School.

Montgomery will replace Jeff Mercado, who had led the Knights to great heights since taking over when the school opened in the fall of 2007.

Montgomery’s name will be familiar to many women’s soccer fans, as she competed on the U.S. women’s national team from 1990 to 1999 and has been a coach at the high school, club, college and professional levels for the past 20 years.

After starring at Point Pleasant (N.J.) High School, where she won two state championships, Montgomery earned three All-ACC honors while playing at N.C. State University. While with the Wolfpack, she was an all-American her freshman and senior seasons and led the team to the NCAA tournament each year, including one Final Four appearance.

Montgomery still ranks fifth on the Wolfpack’s all-time scoring list (95 points) and is seventh in goals (32) and third in assists (31). She was named to the ACC’s Top Women Soccer Players of All-Time team.

“I loved playing in high school and college” she said. “I can remember being a better all-around person and enjoying high school more because I had more of a purpose. And it was so exciting playing for a state championship. I hope to lead these girls down the same road.”

After graduating from N.C. State in 1995 with a degree in health and physical education, Montgomery got her masters degree from Virginia Tech, where she worked as an assistant coach until 1996.

She has played semi-pro soccer for the Raleigh Wings, where she won three championships and was the league’s most valuable player in 1998. In 2000, when the Women’s Professional Soccer League was created, Montgomery was the sixth-overall pick of the Carolina Courage. In her second season, she was on the Courage team which defeated the Washington Freedom, led by Mia Hamm, to claim another championship.

Montgomery played two more seasons of semi-pro ball in Florida and coached several semi-pro and club teams in her time near Orlando. Serving as an assistant at Lake Mary High School while in Florida opened her eyes to the importance and nuances of the high school game.

“I was always a big supporter of club soccer,” Montgomery said. “Club has its purpose. It gives college coaches the ability to see players the same age and same skill levels. High school is different because it teaches you to be a leader.

“You have freshmen and seniors on the same team where the older kids have to teach the younger ones. Freshmen look up to the good senior leadership. High school helps kids become better leaders and helps them make better decisions on and off the field.”

Last year, Montgomery was a health and physical education teacher at Monroe’s Parkwood High School. She said she’s excited about her chance to take over the Knights, a team that has advanced to three state finals in its short existence.

“To win a state championship here would be special,” Montgomery said. “Jeff got them close a few times but was never able to win the big one. He set the bar high, and I hope to keep it going.

“This is where I want to retire if I am lucky enough. (Ardrey Kell athletics director) Cheryl (Feeney) is great at what she does, and (Principal David) Switzer is fantastic. To work for a principal and staff that you know have your back makes all of the difference. This is the perfect place for me and where I want to end up.”

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