As the MCDS sports program grows, so does the talent and ambition of its student-athletes. More than 30 high schoolers played on the girls’ soccer team and more than 20 took the field for the boys’ team during the 2018‑2019 school year. Coach Mark Childs inspires team members to work hard, hone their skills, play competitively, and show good sportsmanship. But a few MCDS grads have taken their passion for the game to the next level.

Katy Heizman ’18, who now attends Lawrence University, plays for the Vikings women’s soccer team. Katy was one of the first athletes on the MCDS girls’ soccer team when it began in 2016. She played for one year and then became captain of the team her senior year. In her time as a Prairie Hawk, Katy writes that she developed a “deep appreciation and passion for the sport,” a commitment and love that led her to play at the collegiate level. As a varsity player at Lawrence, Katy’s fall season includes practicing two hours a day, six days a week, in addition to conditioning and weight training. In the off-season, Katy takes part in intramural soccer, which includes captain’s meetings three times a week and a challenging training regimen. All these practices have “tested me mentally and physically,” Katy declares, “as well as tested the grit and motivation of our entire team.”

Katy understands that while soccer is highly dependent on each individual’s effort and ability, it is, in the end, a team sport. She points out that every aspect of the game relies on the team being cohesive and in sync. Players practice skills together while offering each other encouragement. Scoring depends not only on the team’s ability to pass and shoot but also on teammates’ ability to communicate effectively. “To be on a team means to be part of something much larger than yourself,” Katy reflects. “You get to see directly how improving yourself as an individual impacts the community around you and enriches the environment you’re in. It’s about learning how to give your all, all the time because you want your friends to have the best opportunities on and off the field.” Katy writes that her role as co-captain at MCDS taught her how her actions impacted the team: “The effort I put in was the effort I received from the team—an effort I’m so very proud of.”

Katy believes that the team bond is strengthened both on and off the field. She says that it is the whole experience—team dinners, long bus rides, and hotel stays as well as practices and games—that make a team better and more cohesive. Soccer, she says, as demanding and strenuous as it can be, is an incredibly rewarding experience that teaches determination, sportsmanship, and communication and also builds relationships and community.

Emmett Hendrickson ’16 was a three-year member of Beloit College’s varsity men’s team, the Buccaneers. Emmett, now a senior, credits much of his success and improvement to the guidance of Coach Childs. As a part of the first MCDS boys’ high school team, Emmett, along with his co‑captain Joel Steinberg ’16 and Coach Childs, had to develop a strategy to sharpen the abilities of the players’ diverse skill sets. Initially, Emmett played as a central midfielder. The position—out of his comfort level—damaged his confidence. But as the team’s strategy and formation changed, Emmett reflects, “my confidence was rebuilt by Coach Childs, a great coach, teacher, and mentor whom I got to know very well throughout my time at MCDS. Coach Childs consistently helped me calm down, realize my mistakes, and help me fix them. He offered constant reminders that my skill level was not the issue but my confidence.” Working through the challenge led Emmett to complete his best season ever, scoring 13 goals.

As a collegiate player, Emmett notes that he faced many issues and challenges including serious injuries and a mediocre win-loss record. Yet his passion for the sport did not sway, even though he’s not playing on the team this fall. Instead, Emmett joined the media team in Beloit’s athletic department to do photography and videography for the soccer team. As he pulls away from the athletic aspect of soccer, he plans to immerse himself in a potential career, sports media, which incorporates his fervor for the game.

While playing at MCDS, both Katy and Emmett found their passion for soccer with the support of the MCDS team and Coach Childs. The lessons they learned inspired them and prepared them for the rigor of varsity collegiate soccer and taught them to be strong and successful athletes no matter the circumstances.