Roark returning to varsity athletics with Owls


All of the awards and nominations piled in for her as an underclassman — until everything came to a complete halt.

Transferring from Trinity Lutheran High School to Seymour High School her junior year, in 2016, Maddie Roark was forced to sit out the soccer season and was limited to playing junior varsity in basketball, per IHSAA ruling.

Now, with most all of it behind her, Roark is ready to return to varsity competition.

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In both sports, Roark gained statewide attention for her abilities her freshman and especially sophomore years.

Her sophomore year at Trinity, Roark scored an outlandish 36 goals in 15 games to go along with seven assists to earn All-District 5 second team honors in soccer.

In the first year with a girls-only program, in 2015, Roark led the Cougars to the sectional championship game.

At the end of the season, she also was named the Jackson County Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Playing a pair of games with Trinity before transferring, Roark didn’t get to play for Seymour’s program.

“It was extremely tough,” Roark said. “I just sat on the sidelines and cheered on the team. I went to all of the bonding events. It was still fun even though I didn’t get to play, but I did still get to practice, which was a good thing.”

Owls coach Greg Musser said Roark came into a tough situation and met any challenges head-on.

“I’ve been very, very impressed with Maddie’s adjustments,” Musser said. “Her biggest attribute at this point is that every time she has come to practice, she has been positive. She is trying to do everything she can to be a good teammate.

“She’s not having to take over that alpha role like she had at Trinity. She has done a great job of working herself into the system and playing off her teammates, not trying to do too much, a great attitude on and off the field. Being a good teammate is the hardest part when transferring in, and she’s doing a great job at that.”

While she couldn’t play in games, Roark was allowed to practice with the team last fall.

Musser said he expects Roark to contribute immediately on the offensive third of the field.

He’s familiar with Roark, as he worked with her during her youth soccer days with the Seymour Cyclones travel team.

“She’s a finisher,” Musser said. “When you have a true goal scorer, it makes a difference. We’ve had a lot of very athletic girls who will put their head down and go to the goal and have kind of turned themselves into finishers over the years, but Maddie is a true goal scorer. With her speed, power, athleticism and understanding of the game, it is really going to add a dynamic to our team.”

Roark will miss the first two games with the Owls since the IHSAA requires players to sit out of varsity games for 365 days after the date enrolled.

For Roark, that’s Aug. 25. She will make her debut against Jeffersonville, the Owls’ first Hoosier Hills Conference game, on Aug. 29.

“Coming into my senior year, I hope to bond well and work well with the team,” Roark said. “When I came to (Seymour High School), everyone was so accepting. I’m really excited to be able to get back out there and play. I played with a lot of these girls on Seymour Cyclones growing up. I knew a lot of the girls coming in, and that helped a lot.”

Fast forward to basketball season, and Roark also was outstanding at Trinity.

In h final season with the Cougars, Roark scored 495 points (20.6 points per game) while also leading the team in steals and assists.

She was one of 15 girls voted to the All-State first team for Class A as a sophomore.

At Seymour High School last winter, Roark was inserted into the starting lineup on the JV team.

“(Transfers) get the same shot that everyone else gets (at playing), but in Maddie’s instance, unfortunately, she didn’t have a varsity opportunity,” Owls coach Jason Longmeier said. “She was a varsity-caliber player last year.”

Playing much different competition compared to her previous school, Roark saw a lot of different teams during the season.

“I think that the main thing that took Maddie a little while to realize was how much quicker the 4A game is, even at the JV level,” Longmeier said. “At times, some of the JV games were even tougher than some of the varsity games she had at Trinity. I think that once she acclimated, it was clean sailing. She played really well.”

On JV, Roark averaged around 15 points per game.

In summer league play, Roark has started as a guard for the Owls. Longmeier said she has had big games, scoring near 30 points.

“She brings a lot of speed,” Longmeier said. “She has a winner’s mentality. She’s an unselfish player. At Trinity, she was asked to score a lot, so we were a little worried about how that would transfer to here. We don’t see that with her at all here. This year, she has been an absolute leader for us. She’s getting the ball where it needs to be and playing unselfishly that can also score at any time.”

Longmeier said transferring can be tough for a lot of kids, but Roark came in with the right attitude.

“The (team) took her in, and it’s all because of Maddie’s approach,” Longmeier said. “There has never been any animosity or frustration. At the end of the day, you might be able to say that having her play JV allowed her to settle in. She wasn’t thrown right into the fire. It might have been a blessing in a disguise, but at the same time, we would have really liked to had her on varsity.”

Roark said she wants to play soccer in college but hasn’t committed to a program. She said she wants to see how her senior season goes first as well as joining a club team for exposure.

“I feel like I can go further in soccer,” Roark said. “I’m so short, I don’t think I could play college basketball. I think I have a better chance at soccer.”

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