As part of a new Featured Player content series, SoccerWire will be publishing Q&A articles with recently-committed players who are Featured in the SoccerWire Player Directory. The series will allow players to share their stories on the college recruiting process, travel and high school soccer, and their passion for the beautiful game.

In this edition we will showcase Madison Shumate, who is a junior forward/midfielder with Penn Fusion Soccer Academy and a student at Downington STEM (East) High School. She has verbally committed to playing college soccer in 2024 at Villanova University.

Soccer Wire: What made you decide to verbally commit to Villanova University?

Madison Shumate: Villanova has been my dream school since I was a little girl. My dad played Football at Villanova so I practically grew up on campus going to every sporting and school event. The community at Villanova is like no other. It is truly a family environment and everyone is super friendly. Academics are extremely important to me, being another reason why Villanova has always been appealing to me. Soccer of course has been a huge part of my life, but making sure that I am set up for my future is my number one priority. Being in the Philly area, and the medicine we have up north, Villanova can prepare me for my future career.

What really sold me on Villanova was the coaching staff. I was a little hesitant coming to Villanova with a brand new staff, but after meeting them, I could not imagine playing for a better staff. Samar [Azem], Courtney [Owen], and Ashleigh [Ellenwood] are all such empowering women which is exactly the environment I want to be in as a young woman starting her life. I am so excited to start in 2024 while having my family at every game!

SW: How has Penn Fusion Soccer Academy helped you in your soccer career?

MS: I came over to Penn Fusion when I was in 8th grade. I truly feel that I could not have made a better decision. I have loved my time here at Penn Fusion. The club is such a family and everyone is so supportive. My coaches Craig Scangarella and Maddy Evans have challenged me in so many ways and helped me grow as a player, and a person. Every training session is intense while keeping it fun. The club is very much… person first, player second.

SW: When you were younger, who was your favorite soccer player and why?

MS: When I was younger my favorite player was Julie Ertz. Ertz not only is an amazing soccer player, but she is an amazing person. Being from Philly, I have grown up an Eagles fan and love Zach Ertz. Their family does so much for the community while being amazing at their sports. I love how gritty Julie Ertz is and how she always gives her full effort.

SW: Do you have any pregame routines or rituals that you like to do before a game?

MS: I do not have a pregame routine or ritual, though I do like to have some sort of fun hair. I typically change it up every season but always try to do something fun!

SW: Outside of soccer, what clubs and organizations are you involved with?

MS: Outside of soccer I am really involved in my community. I am very active in my church and love doing community service. I run a club at my school called Rooted which is a Christian Bible study group where we meet, hang out, and do mission projects. This year I have led a few projects and plan to run more next year. We collected over 60 lbs of candy to send to deployed troops, ran a winter homeless drive, volunteered at a homeless shelter, wrote letters to a local prison, wrote letters to senior citizens, made flower bouquets for loved ones, and did a few other small projects. At the moment, I am planning to launch my biggest project which is a baby bottle/baby necessities drive. Each student can grab a baby bottle and fill it with loose change, cash, or check. All money goes to Chester County Connect Care which helps single parents and families who are in need. We will collect other baby items as well.

SW: What was the last song that you listened to?

MS: I am a big country fan and always have Zach Bryan on replay!

SW: What was the best piece of advice that you received from a coach or mentor?

MS: This past year my club team made it to the Sweet 16 of the ECNL playoffs. The night before that Sweet 16 game, my team was having a meeting in the lobby of our hotel. Our coach starts off the meeting by asking us “what is your why?” We all were looking around like “are we supposed to answer that?!” He then starts calling on us one by one asking us “what is your why?” This was a question I had never been asked before by a coach and it helped me realize that we all have a why. We all started playing soccer for a reason and we all have a “why” in our life. So to answer this question, the best piece of advice I have been given by a coach is… find your why, and when you do, live every day for that reason.

SW: What are you interested in studying in college and why?

MS: Since my Freshman year of High School, I have wanted to major in Biomedical Engineering. My dream is to go into the medical industry and develop medical devices. I am super interested in prosthetics and artificial joints. My sister just came back from a torn ACL this year and her whole process has inspired me. I found all the medical devices used in her recovery so fascinating. The CPM machine that helped prevent the buildup of scar tissue, the Game Ready machine that reduced swelling, and even her custom brace. I have been involved in sports my entire life so making medical devices for athletes would be a dream.

SW: What is the best piece of advice that you can give to a younger player who is interested in playing soccer at a high level?

MS: I have two pieces of advice:

In regards to playing at a high level…

Show up. Show up every day. Not every day is going to be 100%, and that is okay. Somedays all you can give is 25%, but give that 100% of that 25%. Show up for yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else. Even if it’s not 100%, you’re still getting better, because you decided to show up. Showing up means you believe in yourself, and you believe in your potential. You have potential, but it comes down to whether or not you want to use that potential. And in the end, don’t forget to enjoy it! Soccer is supposed to be fun, not a job.

In regards to the recruiting process…

Be patient. At the beginning of my process, I thought I wanted to be committed by the fall. I am so glad I did not do that. I chose to really take my time. I made sure to visit any school I thought I had any interest in. I realized that I wanted certain things in schools, and some of the schools on my list did not offer that. It is okay to be picky!!! You are going to be spending 4 years at this school, do not just go to a school for their soccer program. Make sure you love the school and are proud to call it home. Taking your time is so important because it allows you to really get to know people. Getting to know the staff you will be playing for is extremely important. In addition, be in control of your timeline, and don’t let a staff pressure you into making a decision you do not want to be making. Remember to respect yourself, and make sure you feel loved wherever you are going!

SW: Is there anyone that you would like to give a shoutout to or a thank you for helping you in your soccer career?

MS: I would like to thank the Lord for his guidance throughout this process. Without Him, none of this would have been made possible.

I would love to give a shout-out to Donna Fishter. Donna is a Leadership Coach / Mentor who works with youth-professional athletes. I have been working with her for 2 years and she has really helped me find who I am both on and off the field. I am extremely thankful for all the work she has done with me over the past few years. I would not be the person I am without her!