13 years ago my younger daughter Madison (now 17) began playing soccer. She is the one with the blonde curly hair. She LOVED the sport and earned the name “Maddog” early on. She was a spunky kid, always upbeat, and was a rascal on the field.
Being the second child to play the sport, it is a shame, but we made most of our mistakes on our older daughter (on the right in the picture), and when Madison’s turn came, we had already realized the right decisions to make regarding soccer. Don’t get me wrong, my older daughter played club soccer through high school, and then played at the collegiate level for 4 years at Texas Women’s University, finally making captain her senior year. She will one day (hopefully) have her own club team and enjoy teaching younger girls using her knowledge of the game.
Around year 8, Madison was diagnosed with fibula torsion, the lower part of both legs turned in slightly causing her to have to move her hips more to do things other children were easily able to do. We had a choice after bringing her to see specialists:
- Break both legs, cast for 9 weeks, scars down both legs – correct the torsion
- Leave her legs alone and she will adjust to her body
We struggled quite a bit on what to do, but in the end decided that we would let her be. Honestly the scars (we thought) would be more difficult to live with.
Because of her legs, in soccer she couldn’t kick the ball on the inside of her foot easily. Actually, early on she was known for kicking on the outside of her foot under high stress. Little did I know at the time the enormous tenacity my daughter would have for the game of soccer.
Around age nine, during one of my son’s baseball practices (about 2-3 times per week) Madison and I would practice trapping. She would beg me every week to “go trap” as she would say. I would throw her the soccer ball and she would have to trap it, and kick it back to my chest. I would rate each one 1-10 on the trap and the kick back. She was challenged to score high. This went on for about 8 months straight. She became so good at trapping that she could almost take any ball thrown near her and bring it down. What I didn’t realize is how much she was learning to use her head to control the ball.
Madison begin club soccer in the top division in the DFW area right out of the gate at age 11. She finally learned how to twist her hips to use the inside of the foot to pass – very necessary in soccer. At age 15, she moved to a local nationally ranked team, Solar, and settled into the center defensive position. They began to travel nationally in her sophomore and junior high school years, garnering much interest from college coaches. In high school, she made the varsity squad at Allen High School her freshman year and is currently playing for the high school as a Junior. She became known for her heading and scored many times (even as a defender) on corner kicks with her head both in her club and high school teams.
One coach that showed much interest in her sophomore year was the head coach of the NCAA Division 1 Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro TN. Late 2011, Madison and I visited the school just 30 minutes south of Nashville. She loved the school and we watched the very talented MTS girls team win a conference game. He never hesitated in his pursuit of Madison and attended almost all of her national games including Colorado, Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, and Seattle. He saw her as the starting middle defender on his 2013 team.
Last night she called the coach and accepted a generous scholarship to play for MTS in the 2013-2014 year. It was a relief after she committed as she had reservations due to the 10 hour drive. She is excited about the opportunity to play top soccer for a highly ranked D1 college team.
She deserves it. Her love for the game is incredible. She never really sought out other sports because she was always saw herself as a soccer player. I believe the torsion in her legs only served to have her work harder than others, causing her to have the ability to control the ball without thinking as she grew older.
Madison has a wonderful, tender heart. She loves Christ and serves Him unconditionally. Proud is an understatement in my feelings for who she is as a young woman, and for the athlete that she has become. I better get ready for the flights and drives because it is going to be a tough path to see her play in Tennessee, but as the old saying goes, “where there is a will, there is a way”.