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ON THE PATH: Daughter of Frederica Hall of Famer has Knights one step from return to title game

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ON THE PATH: Daughter of Frederica Hall of Famer has Knights one step from return to title game

Cate Seymour is fully cognizant of the opportunity that lies in front of Frederica Academy.

The senior standout’s entire life has built towards this moment.

Frederica Academy travels to Macon today to face off against Augusta Prep in the GISA Class 3A semifinals at 1:30 p.m. in Mercer’s Betts Stadium.

The gravity of a shot at the title is not lost on Cate. She’s been regaled by tales of Frederica state championships since she can remember.

Cate is the daughter of Frederica Academy Hall of Famer Jeff Seymour, who won four state championships with the Knights from 1983-87. Now she has a chance to follow in her father’s footsteps.

A three-sport athlete and Frederica Academy’s Most Valuable Male Athlete in 1987, Jeff’s upbringing revolved around athletics, so it’s only natural Cate grew up an athlete herself.

“With Cate, and her older sister Claire, who also played soccer at Frederica, who is now in college, they started playing at early ages,” Jeff said. “A lot of that was because I was still playing in adult leagues when we lived in Atlanta, and it was kind of this natural thing.

“One of the things we always kind of implored with our kids was, hey, pick some sports you want to play and have fun. I feel very blessed that both my girls loved playing soccer, which is what I loved to play growing up through early adulthood.”

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Frederica Academy’s Catherine Seymour heads a ball over a Brookwood defender Friday in an GISA Class 3A quarterfinal game.

Cate has also played basketball and run cross country, but she was always destined for the pitch.

Jeff coached his elder daughter’s rec team in Atlanta, and Cate was set to act as the team’s ball girl, but as the games got underway, she was compelled to run onto the field and participate with the older girls.

“When I had to get off the field, I just cried so much,” Cate recalled. “I pitched a fit to the point where they had to hire a babysitter to take me to the playground during her game.

“I was so passionate about being on the field.”

While Cate’s interest in the sport my have come naturally, she’s nurtured her skills with a maniacal desire to continue to improve.

Like Claire, Jeff coached teams Cate played for early in her soccer career, but she’s also sought out additional training whenever possible.

“Cate will be the first one to say that her worst coach ever was probably me,” Jeff said with a chuckle. “The parent-child dynamics in coaching is a tough one to navigate, to say the least, and I was not good at it back then.

“Fortunately for her, since sixth or seventh grade, she’s always had someone else coaching her, not her father. She’s honestly developed into a phenomenal soccer player. She’s very driven and that’s her personality, that she trains all the time, even when it’s not with her team.”

Cate recounted blaring One Direction on trips to Savannah to train and play with a club team in front of sparse crowds in an effort to hone her craft.

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Frederica Academy’s Cate Seymour competes in a match against Islands earlier this season.

Even when tragedy struck in the form of a serious injury, it just further fueled her drive.

“I tore both of my ACLs and I was out for a long time, and that really just gives you a lot of perspective, having to watch so much,” Cate said. “It was hard at times, but now it just makes me appreciate it so much more, like the little things, like when I can jog for five minutes straight or hop and not be afraid of landing. It just helps a lot and now I’m just able to play.”

Cate came back from injury a bit out of shape, having missed so much time on the field, but it only made her more determined to return better than before and pushed her already tireless work-ethic to another level.

In addition to training in Savannah or Hardeeville, S.C. three times a week, Cate ran cross country to get back in shape. She spent her “off days” working on her speed and agility with Frederica cross country coach Christy Bumgartner.

The tenacity in which Cate attacked her rehab with was on full on full display in Frederica Academy’s 3-0 victory over Brookwood in the quarterfinals last Friday.

With the Knights holding a two-goal lead late in the first half, Cate fought through a horde of defenders to free herself up to get down the sideline and record an assist on a perfect pass to Ashley Burandt to help her team move one step closer to a finals appearance.

The Knights haven’t won a state championship in girls soccer since former Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year , and current U.S. women’s national team member, Morgan Brian walked the halls of Frederica Academy. Following in the footsteps of her father and the only Knight to have her jersey retired by the school and reaching the pinnacle of the sport would be fitting for Cate and a team that has put in the work behind the scenes.

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Frederica Academy's Cate Seymour passes the ball down field in a GISA Class 3A quarterfinals match against Brookwood last Friday.

“It means a lot,” said Cate of the opportunity to play for a championship. “I know my sister got close a few times, but to be able to carry on that legacy, and also this team has worked so hard, and with (head coach Gabe) Gabriel and Coach Christy, we’ve become so much more of a possessive team than we ever thought we could be.

“We’ve been training a lot, and you can tell our effort has been high and everyone wants this really badly. So, I’m really excited to see how well our work pays off, no matter what happens. Hopefully it does mean we win and we get to play in the state championship, which would be amazing.”

While Cate is stirred by the chance to make her coaches and school proud, Jeff is just happy she and her team will be able to show their classmates and peers just how good they really are.

Jeff remembers how rewarding it was to represent Frederica Academy, and he and his family feel proud to be able to watch his daughter do the same.

“I think one of the great things about getting to play for your high school versus the club soccer,” Jeff said. “Now her friends, her peers, her teammates get to see the results of all that work.”

Of course, advancing past Augusta Prep is far from a given.

The Cavaliers won four straight GISA titles before losing 1-0 in the championship game last season.

Jeff wasn’t an underdog very often during his time at Frederica, but the lead up to the state championship game against Mount de Sales his senior year stood out in his memory.

By that time, Jeff had discover he wasn’t nervous before big games because he and his teammates expected to be there. They expected to win, despite playing against what he perceived as a more talented team.

So, Jeff’s message to Cate and her team is simple: just go have fun and play their game.

“They were younger than us, but they were easily a more talented team than us in terms of soccer skills and things of that nature back then,” Jeff said. “But we beat them pretty handily in the state championship game, and part of it was because we weren’t nervous. We expected to win, and obviously we were very talented as well, but they had two or three guys on their team that were excellent soccer players. We just played with that confidence, if you will...

“For Cate and her group, I said, ‘Cate, y’all have a very good team. You’re not in the semifinals by accident. Go out there and play with confidence, play with the skills you have, and good things will happen.’”

Thus far, the Knights have done their part in exuding a quiet confidence as they prepare for their toughest challenge of the year.

As long as Frederica gives Augusta Prep it’s best shot, the team will leave from Macon content, whether that’s Friday or Saturday evening.

“We really just want to work as a team, because soccer is a team sport,” Cate said. “So we’ve been practicing all together, we’re going to have a team dinner tonight, just getting together and making sure everyone understands that this will be one of the toughest games we’ve played all year.

“We’re trying to put in the right work and have the right mindset about it, so we’re all very excited, very nervous, but we’re also working very hard to make sure that we’ll be remembered by Augusta Prep, no matter the outcome.”

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