Lansing youth, grit to shine/Player profile on Maddie Fay
Lansing High girls’ soccer has established itself as one of the better and most consistent Class 5A programs in the state.
The program has been blessed with talent that not only knows how to play, but works hard to take individual games to another level.
So the 2017 spring season must have smarted a bit as a 6-2 start to the campaign came crashing down with a seven-match losing streak that ultimately led to a lower playoff seed and early exit at Topeka Seaman.
A number of injuries to key players played a key part in the struggles, but several sophomores got playing experience and now a large class full of talent is taking charge of Lansing’s team with a chance to get them back on track.
Third-year head coach Adam Cogswell is impressed with the group and its toughness.
“If there's one thing we won't lack for, it's grit,” Cogswell said. “These girls have faced a fair amount of adversity the last couple years, and they've always come through it. They've had heart and desire since the day I first met them and that hasn't changed. I know my returning players will step back or step up into bigger roles within the team as players and leaders.
“(The class of 2019) overall is very talented. We've been blessed to have some gifted players be part of our program and I fully expect many of them to be playing at the next level in their careers.”
Senior Maddie Fay sees a lot of potential throughout the roster even with the disheartening knee injury to classmate Georgia Watkins, who may not return until right before the new season starts.
“Definitely we have a pretty good mix of older and younger and we have a lot of juniors,” Fay said. “(Georgia) had just made the academy team at our club – KC Elite – it was terrible. She was so sad because she worked so hard.”
Fay emphasized that the team may be full of veteran influence, but there are some strong freshmen moving up the ranks.
“These freshmen have potential,” she said. “The younger players hit hard. In these practices, the girls have been knocking all these guys on their butts all day long.”
One of those freshmen, Nicole Price, has enjoyed working out with the older Lions and sees the similar acceptance for good play over the defensiveness of new players pushing for playing time.
“It will be fun and a good experience since I really enjoy soccer, it’s my favorite sport,” Price said. “The coaches seem like really good coaches – sometimes they are strict, sometimes they are not. Those are the best coaches because they help you learn more.
“(The older kids) are supportive and don’t care about age, they care about skill. I am working my hardest hoping that I can get on the varsity team. I played rec for a long time and now I am on the Leavenworth (club team). During the summer, I usually just hang around, but now I am doing a lot of running around so I can stay in shape.”
Fay said that the team is trying to do what it can to stay stronger in the face of injury.
“We are working hard to be in shape for next season … running and making sure we are strong so we can prevent any injuries,” Fay said. “It should be a good year. Cogswell, a little while ago, sent strengthening exercises for specifically ACLs. We have started doing yoga in the mornings and getting a little more limber. Hopefully, the schedule will be a little bit better for us and have actual time to recover. Last year was jam packed.
“The (schedule) was pretty bad going in, but then we started having all the delays and postponed games because of the weather. It got to a point where we had (Blue Valley) the night before and (Topeka Seaman) the next morning. There were times where we would play two really good teams two days in a row and it was hard. They were physical games … our strikers got hit really hard and were coming in from injuries previously. I think the other teams … hit harder.”
One thing that helps is putting aside the disappointment of last spring.
“Last season is last season, we're moving forward,” Cogswell said. “We'll learn from those things objectively, but we have a clean slate in front of us and we plan on writing the next chapter the way we want.”
Player Profile: Maddie Fay - Leads while pursuing academic dreams
Despite trying to live a complete and complex life of academia, employment and everything in between, senior Lansing Lion soccer player Maddie Fay finds enough hours in the week to try to be the best player she can be.
A career that has seen her play on some of the best Lansing teams in recent years to struggling along with the team to battle adversity, Fay finds herself on the precipice of her prep career coming to an end 10 months from now.
From the sound of it, it could also mean the completion of her soccer career once Lansing wraps the 2018 spring season.
“It’s scary because this is my last season, I love this team and I would love to be here for a few more years,” Fay said. “I don’t think I will play in college. I am applying to some big-name schools like Rice University, they are crazy tough and my dream school is Yale. I am going to study biology.”
Lansing head coach Adam Cogswell has enjoyed watching Fay continue to grow as a player during his time with the Lions.
“I expect Maddie to continue being a leader on and off the pitch,” Cogswell said. “She's improved as a player every year and I expect this one will be no different. Off the field, she is the kind of kid our team wants to be around and looks up to.”
Fay has been spending a lot of time this summer lifeguarding at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
“It was because I didn’t want to be sitting inside all day smelling like grease from McDonald’s or something,” Fay said. “I thought (the water park job) would be more fun and be more involved. I get some training in, just going against the currents (in the water) and its hard work. I can barely stand in some places. I feel like I am getting a little more out of it than sitting behind a cashier stand.”
So with all the soccer and the avoidance of grease smells taking up much of her day, Fay also has time to help others and get some reading and TV viewing in.
“I worked a bit at Rose Brooks (Center), it’s a battered women’s home,” Fay said. “They had a Halloween party last year, and they had a lot of little kids there, we bring candy and we hang out with the mothers. The most memorable thing that happened there was a little boy, about 4 or 5, and he was in a Spider Man suit and he was going around hugging everyone that was volunteering. It was so sweet. I try (to help often).
“I read a lot of memoirs and the last one I read was ‘A Long Way Gone’ by Ishmael Beah, about his life, he grew up in Sierra Leone and was a child solider. He had a crazy life. He was so messed up when he was a kid and when he was 16 he started working with the United Nations and came to college in America. I have been watching ‘Game of Thrones’ a lot. The new season starts in (two days) I am so excited. I have also been watching ‘Silicon Valley.’ I love that too.”