It is not everyday you hear of a student athlete like Melanie Hupp. When one imagines their depiction of a “student-athlete,” minds typically go to someone who consistently performs well in academics all the while balancing the grueling athletics side as well. Not only does Hupp perform well in all of the above, she excels.
Hupp was exposed to stress surrounding the constant change having been born in California and moving four times before the ninth grade. Growing up in Puerto Rico due to her dad’s job in the FBI and military, her family and she learned to cope without a consistent, always-present father figure and dealt calmly with the frequent moves. With that unique family dynamic in her life, the “relationship between [her] mom and sister has grown stronger,” said Hupp, yet she “looked forward to when [her] dad came home.”
Looking up to her dad and all “he sacrifices for our country over and over again,” gave Hupp the motivation to follow in his footsteps. Despite the turn of events in her life, the one constant Hupp could count on was soccer.
Moving to North Carolina, Hupp came with a few goals in mind: “playing for a top-tier team, playing collegiate level soccer, and forming relationships here that replace lost friendships from [my] previous home,” she said.
The summer before her eighth grade year, Hupp had a difficult decision to make regarding her choice to reclass and redo the eighth grade. Hupp’s father thought reclassing was a good idea, but she felt it was “crazy and not something you hear about often.” Looking back on the tough decision she made five years ago, Hupp said, “Choosing to reclass is something I will never regret and gave me the future I currently have.”
This change of course gave her an extra year to develop not only as a player but a student as well.
Hupp doesn’t shy away from perfection and spends countless hours “striving to be as good as [I] can in and out of the classroom,” said Hupp. That tenacity and grit leads her to go above and beyond, waking up early before school to work out, taking ten AP classes throughout her four years in high school, doubling up between school and travel practices.
Some notable accomplishments to corroborate these claims is her selection to be a junior marshal last year, her role as President of Spanish National Honor Society, her Cap-7 Academic Award, and her shocking class rank in the top ten.
Being a successful, driven student, Hupp spends her “afternoon’s at practice, sometimes a double practice back-to-back.” By the time she gets home, showers, and eats, Hupp doesn’t start her strenuous homework until close to 9:00.
Outside of the classroom and off the soccer field, “I never really rest or lie down to watch Netflix,” she said. Instead, she is endlessly working to get ahead of homework in her classes, attending her church’s mass on a regular basis, or volunteering at homeless shelters and for “migrant ministry”.
When asking her closest friend group one word that describes Hupp, the common response was “ambitious” and “hard working.”
Mrs. Dinkenor, her current AP English teacher, described Hupp as “diligent, conscientious, and detail-oriented.” These ideas are a common theme between those who spend time with her.
After her move from Virginia, Hupp tried out for the club team, NCFC (formerly known as CASL), yet her desire to achieve perfectionism was for once put to the test. “I tried out for ECNL, the top team at the time, but did not make it,” said Hupp.
Immediately following this set back, Hupp questioned who she was as a player, fearing she “wasn’t good enough and would never play at the collegiate level” like she dreamed of for so long. Yet, it was this moment she learned that “although I didn’t achieve exactly what I wanted that day, it ended up being for the better,” loosening the tight grips she placed upon perfectionism. This was also the day that she realized she was “not going to play at a Duke or a North Carolina,” but instead of dwelling on the reality check, she “needed to find the right school that would mesh with what I could bring to the table,” said Hupp.
Growing up in a military household, Hupp admired her father’s heroic work, but felt as though she herself could never go into that field of business. A few years later, however, when on the college hunt, Hupp came across West Point. “My dad wanted me to go see the school, so I went up there first for a small, 4-day soccer camp,” said Hupp, reflecting her very first time seeing the school. After playing in front of the coaches, Hupp learned they “were very interested and wanted [her] to come play for their program.” After being invited back on an unofficial visit and getting offered a spot, Hupp came to a conclusion that this school was the perfect blend of all she had been working towards: a prestigious university with a 9% acceptance rate, located in beautiful New York, with a soccer program that appreciated all she could bring to the pitch. Since the age of five, Hupp had the dream to play at UNC Chapel Hill on the women’s soccer team, yet knew that all dreams had to be altered to match reality.
That “drive” many described Hupp as possessing is superbly reflected in her choice of university. “I loved the future it would set me up for, and knew academically it would challenge and push me, which is something I wanted in my school,” said Hupp when asked what sets West Point apart.
This upcoming summer, Hupp will leave at the end of June to train for “the beast,” six weeks of draining physical conditioning. Once that is complete, she will begin her studies in August, serve active duty for five years followed by three years in the reserves.