Siegel Sought Support in Field Hockey Return After ACL Tear
In team sports, one can learn a lot about themselves through a devastating personal setback. For Madeline Siegel, her hurdle paved the way to a two-way lane to long-term benefits, as she garnered a greater understanding of her passion project, while truly seeing how beneficial her field hockey family served her when she needed it the most.
The Valley Regional field hockey defender and senior captain started playing soccer around the age of 4 before her father entered her into a local field hockey clinic around 4th grade–and the rest was history. Unfortunately, in the final moments of the 2022 preseason, Madeline suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire campaign, but stayed along the sideline to support her squad. Madeline arduously fought her way back to the turf and has now assumed a solid leadership role for a youthful Warriors’ group on the rise.
“I love the team aspect of field hockey and how not all the pressure is on one person and the idea of doing the best for your team,” says Madeline. “I think a big turning point for me was two years ago, where the seniors on that team taught me how to play the game in a way I never saw before. My club team coaches also changed how I looked at the game. Through my ACL tear, I was able to learn a lot just by watching, and I think it helped my game sense really develop.”
The injury served as one of the low points of not only Madeline’s athletic career, but also her life. Still, like a true Warrior and competitor, she responded by being resilient physically and mentally, backed by the adoration and affection of her peers and coaches.
“It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. It was the last practice before the first game, and I tried turning on a planted foot. After an MRI, I learned I would be out nine months to a year,” Madeline says. “Sports was always my outlet to relieve anxiety, so I had to find a new way to cope. I could not get out of bed without help for two weeks, and the rehab was tough and painful. The team was a big support system for me, and still being an active part of the team helped a lot.”
Warriors field hockey Head Coach Julie Labbadia explains that Madeline has been a great on-field assistant in her inaugural campaign as Valley’s head coach, noting that Madeline is an excellent student of the game who proved herself as a courageous leader after fighting her way back to the turf.
“Last year, Madeline was projected to be a starter among a group of 12 talented seniors on defense; however, during our first week of practice, she had a season-ending injury and tore her ACL,” says Labbadia. “She knows the game extremely well. In my first year as head coach, I feel very lucky to have Madeline, who knows the game very well, leading her peers and collaborating. She leads and holds down our defense, directing the girls and getting the ball out of the circle. She knows the game very well and plays on a travel team in the offseason, learning as much as she can on her club team.”
It can be rough when you are part of a defensive unit that doesn’t always get all the glory or highlight-reel shots and scores. However, Madeline prides herself on being a consummate team player and leader who revels in making the game-saving stops.
“It is tough with defense being an overlooked position a lot of the time. The defense doesn’t get to score goals, which is fine, and it comes with the challenges of any position, especially endurance-wise,” Madeline says. “But it is satisfying to stop a goal or make a diving save. It is also great being a person that the team knows why I am there, and it is to help stop goals.”
Now back as an active competitor and captain for the Warriors, Madeline is truly in her element as a squad steward, having earned the opportunity to lead an energetic and budding bunch of youthful players that will be part of a resurgence within the program.
“I am so grateful to be captain and have other great captains around me to help get the team ready this year. This is a great group of girls who are so excited, ready to play, and have natural talent,” says Madeline. “It all made setting up for the season that much easier. I love the leadership position and having the younger girls look up to me. It has also allowed me to understand how to coach people better.”
Madeline and her teammates are embracing any growing pains that may come this year, but the Warriors are certainly holding their own throughout the challenges of the 2023 regular season. Personally, Madeline will leave Valley with a grander sense of prioritizing and compartmentalizing any uneasiness while accomplishing tasks.
“This season is certainly a rebuilding year, and it has been a weird one because every game so far has been a toss-up. We have a fairly positive outlook on the rest of the year, and the morale is high, and I feel these girls will improve so much,” says Madeline. “I have learned how to manage my time better, and I think I am better when my schedule is tighter. It has helped with my patience and letting things go. I have been able to manage my anger and channel it better into a game. I have also learned a lot about the idea of working with others, and that you cannot get mad at those who are really trying their best.”