McDermott said she was a starter and the only girl member of the Excel Christian Academy Middle School boys team for three years.
"It was hard at first being the only girl, but then everyone adjusted," she recalled. "I think it helped me in the long run. It made me stronger and better with my skills. Their game is a little faster and more physical. I wouldn't let them knock me down, but at first, some guys were stronger. You just have to get back up and keep going. I got stronger as the seasons went on."
She learned to hold her own in that environment and believes it helped her on girls teams as a freshman at Excel and starting her sophomore season at Cartersville. During those years she played center midfielder, a position where she has been a starter at both schools as well as on travel teams.
"I like to play center mid because it's kind of like the engine," she said. "Everything plays through you. You can see the field and you distribute the balls and set up the goals."
Blake Dudley, her soccer coach her first two years at Cartersville who retired after last season, said Young Harris is getting a competitor.
"She is a ferocious player who has excellent technical skills and a good tactical knowledge of the game," Dudley said. "Her biggest positive attribute probably is the fact she does not like to get beaten. Often with the ladies game, women are not quite as competitive. She has the competitive spirit, and it shows in her game. It shows in the way she takes it personally and in the effort she puts forth."
Ryan McConnell, travel soccer coach with Cobb Football Club (CFC), praised her versatility.
"She can play all over," McConnell said. "She's just a naturally good player, and you know you're going to get 101 percent from her regardless of what position she's playing in."
McDermott expects to play center midfield at Young Harris but added she will play any position "that gets me on the field."
The Cartersville senior prefers the girls game, saying it lets players do different things because the pace isn't as fast and she gets more into the little things.
She said she has always enjoyed soccer, which she learned at a young age from her father, Sean. "He played the game in high school and college and now coaches at Gordon Central High. He had me playing since I was 3. I started playing and loved it."
Her love for the sport hasn't diminished since those early years. "When I play, my mind is cleared and nothing matters but the game. It makes me happy. It's kind of like my own paradise when I'm on the field."
She said her highlights at Cartersville include "whenever we win [and I] I feel like I contributed to the win and helped, either in scoring or assisting the ball."
She said other highlights include "definitely beating Cass and going to the [state] playoffs."
The Lady Canes advanced to GHSA state playoffs in AAA her sophomore year. She was credited with six goals and 10 assists on that team.
Last year her travel team was named 2010 North Atlanta Soccer Champions.
McDermott said she is looking forward to playing for the Mountain Lions.
"I went to a soccer camp there and ... I loved the atmosphere. I just felt like I would fit in there. It was like my perfect fit."
She said she plans to major in biology and wants to become an orthodontist.
Young Harris has been formally as a candidate for membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division II level.