Madison Moore doesn’t have any hobbies.
“I wish I could say (I had hobbies) but school and soccer have been my life,” she said with a laugh, admitting Netflix might qualify.
Moore, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, began playing soccer at 4 years old and never lost her love for the sport.
During her club soccer career, she attended a camp at Idaho.
“I told myself ‘Wow, I could never see myself being somewhere like this,’” she said. “I was like, ‘This is such a small town, how do people live like this? There’s no way.’”
But on her official recruitment visit, she gained a new perspective.
Moore said she saw the benefits of a small community, and fell in love with the campus and its changing seasons.
More than anything, she said, it was the team that convinced her.
“I met the team and immediately it was like family. Everyone was so close, so friendly, something you don’t really get everywhere else,” Moore said. “It wasn’t an easy decision at first but I knew this was somewhere I could see myself … And now I could never imagine myself going anywhere else.”
Moore is an integral cog in the machine that has been a successful Vandal soccer team over the last two years. As a defender, Moore has played a key role in a UI backline responsible for a record-breaking number of shutouts and fewest goals allowed. Moore credits the recent success to the family-like atmosphere.
“We had some tough days where we really wanted to figure out who we wanted to be and what team we wanted to become,” she said. “I think just having everyone be on the same page and buy into the team and putting in the effort and the hard work, it really helped us thrive.”
That hard work paid off, Moore said, when the Vandals wrapped up their 2015-16 season playing the conference championship game on their home field. Vandal soccer fans set a new record for attendance that day.
“Just being able to have the tournament and then play with so many fans out there, it’s something that not everyone gets to experience,” Moore said. “It’s something I will hold onto forever — just to be able to make it to the championship and show people we could play some soccer.”
Idaho head coach Derek Pittman came to Idaho at the start of Moore’s junior year.
“I’ve always referred to her as our ‘Steady Eddy,’” Pittman said. “She’s got a lot of blue-collar grit.”
Though some people might see Moore as shy upon first meeting her, Pittman said her playing style is anything but.
“She’s a tough cat with a lot of piss n’ vinegar in her,” he said. “I challenged her a lot during her career here, and she rose to the occasion. It’s a testament to her character.”
That character shone through in one of Pittman’s favorite memories of Moore. During an indoor workout, the head coach was having his players run sprint sets. The team was split into several groups of five or six players, and they had to beat a set time. In order to complete the workout, each of the five to six had to beat the time. Pittman recalls Moore struggling with the workout on that particular day.
“Madi’s group was struggling, and she was pissed,” he said. “She was angry a little at herself because she thought she was letting her team down.”
Between the 12th and 13th reps, Pittman said Moore let out a yell of frustration — unusual for the normally quiet, cool-headed player.
“In that last rep, she showed her true fighting spirit,” Pittman said. “I still tease her about it. But that moment, for me, sticks out as a benchmark for her.”
Pittman said Moore’s leadership style is defined by consistency and setting an example for her teammates.
“She may not yell and scream, but when she had something to say she would say it, and people respected that,” he said.
He said Moore’s dedication to moving the Vandals soccer program forward will leave a lasting mark on the organization.
“To see her growth couldn’t make me more proud,” Pittman said. “Her inspiration will stick with me and her team for a long time.”
Moore said she’s proud of what her team has been able to do over the last few years, and she knows she is leaving the Vandal soccer program in good hands.
“Now, with the transition over the years, even the underclassmen feel (they want to prove themselves) and they want to continue the culture that has been built here,” Moore said. “I think even when we’re gone, they’re going to keep doing amazing things.”
Moore is studying exercise science and pre-nursing and always knew she wanted to enter the medical field.
She is currently applying to nursing school and hopes to begin classes in the summer.
For now, she is saying goodbye to soccer.
“It’s hard because soccer has been such a huge part of my life, so now all of a sudden I’m transitioning on to the real world and life without it,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet moment.”
Still, Moore is ready to move on.
“It’s kind of nice to be able to be like, ‘OK, I’m going to work hard for this now,’ and put my full efforts into something else,” she said. “It’s always been divided, like soccer and school. Now I can be like, ‘OK, I’m going to focus on school and be my very best off the field just like I was on the field.’”
Maybe, Moore said, she’ll acquire some new hobbies.
Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert