This article is the fifth interview from our Athlete of the Month (AOTM) series in partnership with TrueSport. To nominate an athlete or learn more, check out our AOTM headquarters.
The best part of playing a sport like soccer for some third graders is the thrill of competition or the joy of scoring a goal. For Madison Faith, the best part is meeting new friends and playing on a team.
If you watch Madison's Instagram, you see a girl primarily practicing skills on her own. However, Madison's teammates are all she can talk about. Despite all of the incredible skills soccer has taught her, the most valuable to her is the ability to make new friends.
Her dedication to teamwork and the passion she has for sharing the game of soccer with young girls like her make her the perfect choice for SportsEngine and TrueSport's Athlete of the Month.
Madison sat down with TrueSport Ambassador Jordan Wilimovsky, a two-time Olympian in swimming. Jordan was the first to admit that swimming and soccer are two very different sports, admitting open water swimming in particular lacks Madison's favorite quality in sport: working with a team. But she was quick to educate Jordan on the skills he'd need to start playing soccer—she may have even convinced him to give it a try.
SportsEngine and TrueSport caught up with Jordan, Madison, and Madison's mom, Rathy, as the athletes shared their thoughts on what makes a good leader and the fundamentals of soccer. First thing's first: you can't use your hands! Read on to hear more from the conversation.
What do you love about playing soccer?
Jordan: I would love to hear more about your sporting career so far. And, you know, some things that you love about playing soccer?
Madison: I make a lot of new friends!
Jordan: That's awesome. Yeah, that's valid about every kind of sport; you get to meet a bunch of new people. Most of my friends are guys that I met when I was swimming when I was 10, 11, and 12 that I'm still friends with today. So, I definitely think that's one of the coolest parts about sports. Do you have a certain position you play in soccer?
Madison: I usually play middle or defense.
Jordan: Do you think you could teach me how to play soccer? What are some of the things I need to know?
Madison: You can't use your hands! And you need to practice a lot.
What makes a good teammate?
Madison: Talking a lot.
Jordan: Nice, so communicating with my teammates. Anything else?
Madison: Being a leader.
Jordan: What do you do to be a good leader?
Madison: If [my teammates] are doing something wrong, I will tell them.
Jordan: Cool, so you hold your teammates accountable. Anything else a good leader does in sport or life in general?
Madison: They keep their head up and they also try to keep their teammates' heads up.
What is your best piece of advice for a young athlete like Madison?
Jordan: I'd just say have fun. I mean, that obviously sounds like a cliche. But as long as you're having fun, it doesn't really matter. And I think you know; if you keep having fun with your sport, you can go as far as you want. And I always love going to the pool every day. I'm sure you like going to soccer practice and hanging out with your friends. I think it's just a great opportunity to meet new people, learn, and grow skills that you'll carry with you through your whole life.
Do you have a favorite trick?
Madison: The rainbow, probably. I haven't got it yet, but I just learned how to do it yesterday!
Who is your biggest supporter in soccer?
Madison: My mom and my dad.
SportsEngine: Do they go to every game?
Madison: Yes, they go to every game. My dad is actually my coach!
SportsEngine: What's your favorite part about having your dad as your coach?
Madison: He has to come to every game whether he wants to or not.
Words of advice from mom
How did you start Madison's Instagram page?
Rathy: [Her dad] wanted to start her Instagram page just to kind of connect, you know, with other soccer players. And just kind of get her name out just here in our area. We didn't expect to reach people all around the country. Her page has been growing and we really like to connect with soccer players around the world and let her see those players as well.
Have you noticed any personal development in Madison since she started playing soccer, both on and off the field?
Rathy: As far as her personal development, she started soccer when she was five years old. When she started soccer, me and her dad both did not play soccer, but we wanted her to kind of participate in something extracurricular. We just put her into rec soccer, and she just picked it up so quickly and naturally. But she has grown over the years as a player. And as a person. She's, I mean, she shows a lot of, you know, leadership on and off the field.
She's come out of her shell a lot. When she was younger, she was very shy, just reserved. She's much more extroverted now that she's gotten confident at the game and loves making friends. She's very outgoing.
Speed Round with Madison
- Favorite sport to play (other than soccer)? Volleyball
- Sports hero? Christiano Ronaldo or Alex Morgan
- Favorite sport to watch? Football
- Favorite team: PSG
- Go-to pre-game snack? Bananas.
- Favorite color: Teal
- Dream place to visit: Hawaii
- Go-to pump up song? Whatever dad/coach wants to listen to in the car!