Sometimes kids can still surprise, and because of it, an “I told you so” is now always available to Jazmarie Mader.
The Basha senior knew she had a future in soccer, but there was nothing synonymous between “Basha,” “soccer” and “success.” A miserable freshman year on the field left Mader moping and browsing.
Hamilton was nearby, had “academy” programs for all its sports in place, and success followed. Mom was ready to move, but Jazmarie, who’d been home-schooled until she enrolled in high school, wasn’t.
“I’d made friends and didn’t start the process of making friends over again,” she said. “The first time (in public schools) was a big transition for me, but I didn’t want to be trader.
“It was quite the talk with my mother. She was all for switching and I thought I should stick it out and grow.”
Rather than being a “next,” she and her fellow soccer class of 2014 wanted to be a “first,” but it became a steep hill to climb. After miserable freshman and sophomore seasons — including a best friend who opted not to play as a sophomore — her junior year was a close call before ultimately being left out of the playoffs by the power rankings formula despite a difficult schedule.
Sure enough, the senior class of Bears made the postseason — Basha beat Highland in the first round of the Division I tournament before falling to Perry in the quarterfinals — the school’s first since 2007. The biggest factor was Mader, the 2013-2014 Tribune Player of the Year.
“It was the best feeling I’ve had in a really long time,” she said of a postseason invitation. “We knew as a freshman group we’d make it somewhere. People were talking about it and coming up to me at school. Soccer was as un-talked-about sport at Basha. It wasn’t spoken. People knew but didn’t seem to care. When we made the playoffs, people started to take notice. We put ourselves out there.”
She’ll play at Arizona State this fall. A few more high school and club teammates are set to join her in the next 1-2 years in Tempe, and early playing time as a college freshman is possible, but hardly a given. This was compounded when she suffered a torn rotator cuff last week during a club tournament in California when her arm was twisted and tugged upon by a defender battling for position. The current sling means recovery time figures to be between three weeks and two months.
Count on the former and another “I told you so,” but she was reminded most everything in life must go both ways.
“I wish I could take back one last home game. I think I would have appreciated it more,” she said. “Coach (Greg Johnson) would say it could have been the last one (the final few matches), but I didn’t really take it in. Then suddenly, that was it.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.