For his ability to rise above the heads of others, Kyle McQuown has earned the nickname "Irish pogo stick" from his coach.
For his ability to rise above the expectations of others, the FC Tucson forward has earned much more than a catchy nickname.
The former Salpointe Catholic High School two-sport standout and one-time Arizona Wildcats punter tried out for Tucson's new semipro soccer team in the spring and then slowly worked his way onto the pitch during games.
All this while pulling down a full-time job as a recruiter at a local call center.
The native Tucsonan has played soccer since he was 6. "My mom was actually my first soccer coach," he says.
McQuown says his mother and father have always encouraged their four children to get out and be active in sports but also in the community. Every year for St. Patrick's Day his family paints a giant shamrock at a downtown intersection.
His family and Irish heritage are always with him - literally. He has a shamrock tattoo on his right biceps that has the names of his family - "my mother is the stem of the family and everyone else is around it" - and another shamrock on his right calf that encircles the Gaelic words "Saol Sra Saire," or "Live Laugh Love."
His love for soccer continued through to his days at Salpointe, but he then found his feet taking him in another direction - football.
His punting ability allowed him to attend Idaho State University. In his freshman season in Pocatello in 2003, he had the third-highest punting average (43.9 yards per punt) by a freshman in NCAA Division I-AA history. He later transferred to the UA and saw some action during the 2006 season.
But in all that time, the egg-shaped sphere never replaced his love for the round, 32-paneled ball.
"Soccer has just always been something that I love to do," said the 27-year-old. "I've coached for a few years out at CDO Soccer Club, and I've always continued to play - through co-ed or men's league. It's a passion that I've always had. I just don't think I'll ever stop."
He has his fiancée, Erica Reiner, to thank for motivating him to take that soccer passion to the next level.
"My fiancée and I were in (local soccer equipment store) The Shop one day, and we saw a poster," McQuown said. "She asked if I was going to try out, and I really wasn't sure. So she took $30 out of her pocket and said 'Here, try out.' She knew that I could do it, and she knew that I had a passion for it. She's always been very, very encouraging. She gets excited every single time I play."
At that point, she might have been the only one excited.
"He came out here, and from Day1 our staff said he'll never put on an FC Tucson jersey, and he's not good enough, and he's spent the last four years of his life kicking footballs," said FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz. The coach gave McQuown his nickname after watching the forward's zest for getting to headers before anyone else. "But he made it through open tryouts.
"He's the local guy who has not quit. He's been at every training, works a day job."
That dedication - his daily routine is to train with the team from 7 to 9 in the morning then head to work for a shift that ends around 5:30 - has paid off. He was a substitute in FC Tucson's last three matches.
"Playing with some of these guys is such a rewarding experience," McQuown said. "There's a lot of guys who I know are younger than me, but it's really nice to kind of see how they play and just really learn from them. A lot of the guys, what they really don't realize is that I didn't play college soccer and that I decided to take another route."
"Every single day I'm just trying to learn from them and get in the experience. Just try to catch up with them."
While his knowledge increases, so does his pride.
"One thing that I get so excited about is that I've coached in this community and been involved in this community and just seeing all the smiles on the kids faces," McQuown said. "And there's all the encouragement that I get from all of the guys knowing that I'm out here working every single day and doing a full-time job. Just getting that encouragement is worth it."
• What: OC Blue Star at FC Tucson
• Where: Kino Sports Complex, North Field 5
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday
• Radio: 990-AM (Spanish)