MARYLAND HEIGHTS -- All her life Ashanti Carey has heard people tell her she should be running track.
Never mind that she has take-your-breath-away kind of speed, people knew that her parents Apollo and Amanda Carey were track stars in high school and college, and they just figured Ashanti should go into the family business, so to speak.
So one day not long ago, Ashanti Carey did join a club track team, and in her first real race against real competition, she set a new club record for the 100-meter dash.
Like we said, the girl is astonishingly fast. But there was one little problem Ashanti had with running track -- she just didn't like it.
"Oh my god, I hated it," she said. "I gave it a try, but I almost had a nervous breakdown or something right on the track, because I hated it so much. I ran the race, I broke the record, and then I quit. I had to. Running track just wasn't for me."
And the reason running track wasn't the right thing for Ashanti is because she needed a better payoff at the end than just simply running as fast as you can.
Ashanti needed to have a goal -- some fun and exciting reason to want to run as fast as she could in some type of sporting competition.
And she found that goal when she joined the Lou Fusz Soccer Club as a middle schooler, and started scoring actual goals in actual games, at a rate like no one else.
"I just love that feeling when you beat someone, and it's just you and the goalie, and you beat them too," Ashanti said. "Scoring goals is the best. It's just so exciting. I love being able to help my team by scoring."
And this spring, Ashanti has been an incredible help to the soccer team, which was already coming off a conference and district championship season in 2011.
The freshman -- that's right, she's only in the ninth grade and plays every game against girls that are two or three years older than her.
Yet she ranks among the top underclassmen scorers in the entire area, and is second on the Pirates with 22 goals and 10 assists for a total of 54 points scored this year.
In fact, Ashanti's numbers this season make her the second-best scorer in the entire Suburban North Conference, regardless of age, trailing only behind Pattonville's other phenom scorer, , the West Virginia-bound recruit who has 23 goals and 20 assists this season.
"It's almost unfair having those two playing up top together," Pattonville girls soccer coach Tom Iffrig said. "They've got so much speed, and they play so well off of each other, that we put a lot of pressure on the other team."
You might have to forgive Iffrig if he sounds a bit giddy. But why wouldn't he.
The coach and his team are near the end of a four-year run where they had the best goal scorer in school history in Utley, and now they've discovered a freshman replacement who's just as talented and could possibly catch and surpass Utley's record in another three years.
"We just looked it up the other day, and Kailey had 13 goals her freshman year," Iffrig said. "And Ashanti's got 22. That's unheard of.
"And she's a wonderful young woman. She's a great teammate, a great student. She comes from a great family. I'm definitely looking forward to having her around here for another three years."
About the only people not excited about Ashanti's future in soccer are the Pattonville track coaches, who still hold out hope that an athlete with the bloodlines Ashanti has, might one day decide to get back into the family business.
"They keep asking," Ashanti said. "But I keep telling them no. Soccer is what I love. And I love this team. I feel like this is the sport I'm supposed to play."
This week, Pattonville soccer fans can watch Ashanti Carey, Kailey Utley, and all the Pirates compete in the Class 3 District 5 tournament, which will be held at the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex on May 15 and 18.
The Pirates are the No. 1 seed for the second straight year, and will play either Hazelwood Central or McCluer in the district semifinals on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the district championship game, Friday at 5:30 p.m.