TWIN FALLS — Maddie Watkins didn’t necessarily see herself as a leader.
One of four seniors on the Twin Falls girls soccer team this season, Watkins found herself adapting to that role on the fly during the season.
It started with an unexpected compliment from an admiring newcomer to the program.
“I never really thought about that until one of the freshmen came up to me and talked to me,” Watkins said. “That’s kind of when it hit me.”
Watkins scored 23 goals in 18 games during her senior season, mixing in seven assists — she had a direct hand in almost 36 percent of the team’s 84 goals. The Great Basin Conference player of the year and the Times-News player of the year led the Bruins to their second straight state trophy; until last year the team had never won a state trophy.
“It wasn’t the one we wanted, especially not after finishing third last year, but we proved we were one of the best teams there,” Watkins said, referencing a penalty shootout loss to Middleton in the quarterfinals. “We were even teams, and it’s just something that doesn’t really dictate which is a better team. You’ve got to decide that somehow, and luck wasn’t with us. We were happy to win another trophy.”
The encore will be difficult, but not impossible, in part due to the groundwork Watkins and her three senior teammates helped lay.
“All four of us will leave a hole, but the seniors before us left a hole and we filled that,” Watkins said. “We had a big junior class, a good sophomore class and a freshman class that stepped up when we needed them. They’ll be in good shape.”
Many standout players, once done with high school, plan their college careers. Watkins has no such intention.
She wants to attend either the University of Washington or University of Oregon. She’s a decent player, she said, but she knows she’s not a Pac-12-level player. Although that realism has set in, it doesn’t mean she’s hanging up those goal-filled boots just yet.
“I’ll find a way to stay involved, maybe in a club or intramurals,” she said. “Soccer will always be part of my life. But it’s sad to think that part of that is over.”