Tennessee Soccer Club standout Maddie Padelski continues to serve as a fantastic ambassador for the State of Tennessee at the national level, as indicated by her recent call-up to the US Youth Soccer ODP National Select Team to represent the 2007 Girls at Dallas Cup this April. Playing at such a stage is nothing new for the high school sophomore, who also participated in a training camp with the U.S. U-16 Women’s Youth National Team in late 2022 before taking part in another camp with the U-16s this past January.
Maddie credits Tennessee ODP for playing a key role in her early development, and we spoke to her about the experiences she had while participating in the program.
“It was always a blast meeting up with other girls throughout the state at ODP,” she reflected. “It also helped me get better by playing with some of the best girls in the state. I am just so grateful for all of the experiences that I had while playing ODP.”
There is no question that Maddie belongs on the national stage, but it was at an ODP Regional Event where it truly struck her that she had the talent to compete at such a prominent level.
“I played in an ODP Regional Event before the COVID shutdown, and I had done really well against some of the best players in the South Region,” she stated. “Unfortunately, COVID happened shortly after that. Since everything got cancelled, I never did find out if I made the team or not. However, that was still a really important event for me because it helped me gain the confidence that I belonged on that level.”
When the COVID Pandemic cancelled all team activities in 2020, Maddie had to get creative in the ways that she could continue to develop and fine-tune her game.
“During that time, I was still working five days a week and would take off the weekends to rest,” she recalled. “From speed and agility to shooting, footwork, getting touches and even yoga sometimes, I was doing a mix of everything. I knew that if I kept putting in the work on my own, I would be ready to step onto the field when things got back to normal. I really used that time to improve my game and make myself a better player.”
All of the hard work paid immediate dividends on the field, and her level of play started to turn the heads of some prominent people at the national level. Fast forward to October of 2022, and Maddie was officially breaking onto the national scene after being called into U-16 Women’s Youth National Team Camp.
“I actually found out that I was going on my birthday,” Maddie laughed. “I got checked out of school early and was taken to one of my favorite restaurants. I was handed a card and started bawling because I knew what it meant. In that moment, I was just so grateful to my coaches, family and everyone who helped me get there. This was my dream, and it was actually happening.”
After receiving that invitation, Maddie headed to Nike World Headquarters in Portland this past October to play alongside some of the best players in the country at her age level.
“Going into camp, I was feeling nervous since this was my first camp,” she admitted. “However, my mind was quickly put at ease because everyone was so welcoming. At one point, it finally hit me that I was a part of this amazing group. While that obviously made me very happy, it also motivated me because I knew how much better I could get by competing with these players. By being in that environment, it helped me figure out what components of my game I needed to develop to make sure that I continued to improve as a player.”
Maddie is quick to acknowledge that it took many different people to get her where she is today, and that group will also be the ones that help her find the next level of her game.
“My parents and my coaches have been so instrumental throughout all of this,” she said. “My drive to be on the senior national team one day serves as my ultimate inspiration. I remember watching the national team when I was still playing recreation soccer and saying to myself that I wanted to get there one day. To make it this far means so much to me and my family.”
As for current players on the U.S. Women’s National Team that Maddie enjoys watching the most, there are two who stand out.
“I really enjoy watching Mallory Pugh (Swanson) and definitely Alex Morgan,” she confirmed. “I have always looked up to Alex Morgan because she is a forward and scores a lot of goals. She has been on the national team since she was really young, so she is someone who has always inspired me.”
And if Maddie one day achieved her dream of playing for the senior national team?
“Realizing that dream would just be so amazing,” she remarked. “Reaching that level would mean that all of the sacrificing, all of the hard work, and all of the sweat and tears I put into this game have been worth it. This entire experience has already been so meaningful, but getting to the senior national team would be the icing on the cake. I would just be so excited, and so would my family, because they would know how much I went through to get to that point. It would just mean so much to all of us.”