“Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision,” advice given by the legendary Muhammad Ali.
Because champions are created, not born. Every extra second, minute and hour they spend going above and beyond, living their lives in a pursuit of perfecting their craft and skills to be someone and something more.
“She's someone who's really taken this passion and made it her whole life, she’s started homeschooling and tries to stay out of social circles in order to train. She’s dedicating her life to this. Before getting to her night session with me and the team, she's touched the ball for at least 4 hours and also done speed and conditioning training as well,” said Andrew Giallombardo the coach of Cedar Stars Academy-Monmouth about Madison Krakower, a midfielder recently called up for the US Soccer U15 National Team.
Giallombardo, who played for the under 17 US National Team and also played at Southampton FC in the English Premier League for a time, knows what makes a player stand out and what can help them reach the next level.
“She’s unique, she’s someone who reminds me of myself at her age and having a player like here in the group, it’s challenging. Not in a negative, but because you want to get the most out of her in training and it makes you think about putting on top-level sessions to challenge her.”
And when it comes to coaching, he believes, “Being a coach to me, means giving back to the game I love so much and to inspire the youth. It’s a massive passion in my life and to just be around any players that enjoy it. It just means a lot to me because of the great coaches and mentors I had as a youth player and I want to give back like they did for me.”
Madison Krakower, who’s been playing since she was 2 and is now 14, plays in the U17 age group, and is motivated and driven to make soccer her life and profession, stating, “I really want, if I can, I would like to go pro if I can right away. But, if not, and I can’t play professional right away, I would like to go D1 and then make the National Team that way. In five years, I hope that I’m playing on a team in Europe or the U.S as a professional and that people are watching me on TV.”
Madison grew up around the ball. Her sister, 7 years her elder, also played soccer and at a high level in her own right, which helped influence the first initial first steps in Madison’s journey. Her father, Jason Krakower would help Madison’s sister practice and during one of them, Madison seemed to be drawn to soccer.
Jason states, “I watched Madison play, and I kid you not, from the very first time she touched the ball she was very different. I knew she was special. I put cones down and thought it would take her a few weeks to get it down, but she dribbled through the cones like she was born to do it on her first try.”
And like those training steps, Madison found her purpose in soccer early on too. Jason continued, “One game, she scored nine goals and after, said she wanted to stop dance immediately. She never ceases to amaze me and gets better every time she steps on the field. She makes me very happy.”
Madison, has also played for USWNT U14 National Team and is an NJ Stallions alumnus who won the EDP Open Cup in 2017. Madison has also been playing two years up in age groups.
In her own words, when asked if Madison would choose anything else if not soccer, she replied simply without pause and laughing, “No, not really.”
She truly lives the soccer life, through the lows such as when, “I shot a ball and it came back at me and hit me in the face and my nose started bleeding,” or what she describes as the highest point so far, “we were in California and I was going down the line and I shot it in the top right corner and it was all over the DA website to tie the game.” This young woman has decided on her path and is doing all she can to set herself up for success, spending mix of her days between schooling, personal trainers and swapping practices between her own club team and with a boy’s team as well. Sacrifices, dedicating, and disciplining herself in pursuit of her dreams.
However, it’s not just Madison or young athletes who shoulder these daily sacrifices either, there is a weight held by parents and guardians as well, to which Jason can attest, “You really have to balance your life around everything that she does. Literally work, pleasure, everything really revolves what she’s doing and it’s really gotta be rigid and have to do the same thing every day, if she has training to do, we have to do the same thing every Tuesday and Thursday, Monday and Wednesday, the rest of the time is balancing our lives around hers.”
And this decision to make soccer a full time career is 100% Madison’s choice, not something pushed onto her by her parents. Jason is simply supporting his daughter in making her dreams come true, “The only thing I've aspired for my kids is to be the best at whatever they do. If she goes to school or soccer, as long as she gives 100 percent thats all I can aspire for her or my kids. If she decides tomorrow to be a ballerina, I would learn all I could and support her in that, just go out and do your best, that's all you can ask.”
This life advice is echoed through Madison, who says “I just try to get better and better in everything I put myself into. Whenever I go to camps, I try to be the best player on and off the field and just be the best that I can.”
Madison is a great example of where hard work, passion, dedication, and discipline can take. Many players old and young could learn a lot from her drive and mentality, she says, “If you really want it, you have to sacrifice so many things for it, you have to make those sacrifices and do everything you can to achieve your goal.”
EDP is happy to support this young woman on her future success and in her pathway to the next steps in her career and educational journey.
Founded in 1999, Elite Development Program Soccer (EDP) is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S. EDP operates youth leagues for boys and girls ages 9-19, conducts a Futures program for players ages 7-11, and operates U20/23 men’s and women’s leagues. EDP also runs over 20 tournaments each year. One of the major priorities of EDP’s leagues and tournaments is to enable soccer players to reach their full potential, with an emphasis on attending college. More than 3,500 teams participate in EDP’s leagues and more than 170,000 players compete in EDP tournaments annually. For more information on EDP, visit www.edpsoccer.com.