By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor
COVID-19 has caused many hardships for people worldwide. With the help of the pandemic, Hutchinson Community College freshman soccer player Madison Ontjes hasn’t been able to catch a break.
Ontjes graduated from Nickerson High School, where she only got to play soccer for two years – Nickerson did not have a girls soccer team until Ontjes’ sophomore year.
Then, the summer before her senior year, disaster struck.
“I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. My recovery was a six-month process. I had to miss my whole senior year of volleyball and half of basketball, which was really hard,” Ontjes said.
Her main goal while recovering was to be able to play in the state basketball tournament.
“We had a really good chance of getting first, so that’s what I was really looking forward to with my recovery,” said Ontjes, who is the niece of HutchCC women’s basketball coach John Ontjes.
Ontjes finally was cleared to play at the start of 2020, and got to play a few games of her senior season. That’s when COVID-19 stepped in.
Ontjes said it was “extremely hard” to miss half of the season, and then have the state tournament get cancelled.
In the two years Ontjes got to play soccer in high school, she enjoyed the atmosphere of the sport.
“My coaches made the season really enjoyable, and the team got along very well. Overall, it was very fun,” Ontjes said. “I played center (midfield), and even got on the state leaderboard for goals scored in a season.”
Same as the other HutchCC fall sports, the women’s soccer team should currently be competing. But the NJCAA opted to move all fall championships, except for cross country, to the spring.
“For me, it feels very strange not playing right now. We haven’t gotten to play actual games in a long time and it’s strange, because all my life I’ve grown up with a packed schedule because of athletics,” Ontjes said.
Although the team isn’t playing right now, they have had the opportunity to practice, and they are excited to be out on the field competitively.
“As of now, we have been practicing three days a week at 6 a.m. to begin preparing for the season,” Ontjes said. “The thing I’m most excited about this upcoming season is getting to play with all the girls. We all get along really well and we’re all really good players. I’m excited to see what the season brings for us.”
Ontjes seems to fit in well with the team, freshman soccer player Jennifer Ramirez said.
“I love having Madi as a teammate. She is fun to be around; always super happy and so funny. She’s super nice to everyone,” Ramirez said.
Through all of the hardship Ontjes has faced, she has always had at least one person who had her back through it all.
“My biggest supporter is definitely my mom. She was there for me during the whole thing and always helped me stay positive,” Ontjes said.