HPCA’s Mathis signs with Meredith

Jun. 02, 2014 @ 11:22 PM

Madison Mathis thought, just for a short time, that she’d let her playing career fizzle out after high school. But, as it turned out, she just couldn’t let it go.

She’d worked too hard for too long to become a standout soccer player that, as she looked at colleges, she realized she wanted to keep playing. So, now, Mathis, a recent graduate of High Point Christian, will continue her soccer career with NCAA Division III Meredith College.

“It’s like all my hard work has finally paid off,” says Mathis, the daughter of Pam and Ray of High Point. “All this time every day training, playing year-round, travelling everywhere. My parents helped a lot with that.

“I always wanted to play college soccer. Then, this year, I thought, ‘Well, I just want to have fun in college, not play every single day.’ Then, I was like, ‘I’m not ready to give it up yet.’ So, I just thought and prayed about it.”

Mathis first started playing soccer when she was 5 years old in the Jamestown Youth League and eventually moved up to club soccer with Greensboro United. She began playing at HPCA in the sixth grade and by the eighth grade she was playing on the varsity team.

Throughout her 13 years at HPCA, she’s played a variety of sports — softball, track, cross-country, basketball. But it was soccer that she devoted herself to the most, training and practicing daily, playing games every weekend on teams that often travelled around the country.

“I’ve always been really determined in sports,” she says. “My dad and I have always been athletic. So, as far as soccer, I’ve always liked the speed of the game. I’m a fast runner, so it’s a lot of fun to play forward, because you can just run.

“I just fell in love with it – your teammates, friends are like your sisters. And I’ve had the best coaches on all my teams. … There have been times I’ve gotten tired of it. But my coaches, parents, grandparents have always pushed me. I’ve had the drive too – I don’t give up easily.”

With the Cougars, Mathis has grown into a leader on the field. After winning the team award for best offensive player early in her career, she earned All-PACIS her junior and senior years and helped HPCA make the highly competitive NCISAA 3A playoffs her sophomore year.

“She’s brought speed, hard work, creativity,” Cougars coach Austin Beck says. “She’s always going to create scoring chances, no matter who we’re playing. This past year especially, she brought a lot of leadership to our team.

“That’s something we’ve been trying to develop with her, and she really stepped into that role, took charge and was really a great leader for us. I think she’s just driven. She’s really driven to be the best player, person and leader she can be. And I think that’ll really help her at Meredith.”

In considering her options, Mathis looked at schools like Alabama, High Point and Elon to continue her studies and perhaps play club soccer. But one of her good friends, former Westchester standout Meghan Ingram, also plays for Meredith and talked with her about playing.

So, she visited the campus; weighed different aspects, like how close her grandparents would be; talked with the coaches, led by head coach Paul Smith; and finally decided that she wanted to play for Meredith, which plays in the USA South Athletic Conference.

“It feels really good to finally make it official,” says Mathis, who wants to eventually go into physical therapy. “I just talked with (Ingram) about it, then I went and visited the school. She talked with me about what the team stands for, what they do.

“I just loved the feel of a family as a team and not just soccer all day. And I loved the coach. I feel like I’ve known the coach all my life.”