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Skynet’s Worst Nightmare

‘The Maddinator’ highlights emphasis on fun in Parks & Rec youth soccer

Madeline Yalove, 6, gets pumped before last weekend’s match at Everett Recreation Center.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

The stencil on the sweatpants is a dead giveaway: “Love Justice.”

Red Hearts coach David Dawson, far left, looks over the action last Saturday.

It isn’t a slogan. It’s a creed.

For she is “the Maddinator.” She’s 6, and she comes to us, she’ll tell you, “blessed with the power of good.”

The Maddinator and older sister, Alex, power down after the match with an Orange Crush.

Most days, the pint-sized superhero is mild-mannered kindergartner Madeline Yalove. She has an older sister, Alex, 8, who dutifully informs us, “My teacher’s husband was Elvis’ paperboy.”

On Saturday mornings at Everett Recreation Center, Maddie becomes “the Maddinator,” a name she gave herself, and steps into goal for the “Red Hearts” Parks & Rec youth soccer team.

She’s pretty good.

“She knows when to clear it up the field and when to kick it out of bounds,” Red Hearts coach David Dawson said.

The Maddinator, a.k.a. “The Wall,” or “the Queen of Defense,” if you prefer, all names she gave herself, had a good match last weekend. Two big saves – one charging out of goal to clear the ball over the side, the other shielding an attacker from the pill and a timely clearance – helped the Red Hearts to a 2-1 victory.

In true Maddinator fashion, Yalove didn’t get too worked up about it.

Two weeks ago, she seemed unconcerned when a first-period goal gave an opponent an early, 1-0 lead, Dawson said.

“I asked her, ‘Maddie, what happened?’” he said. “She said, ‘Well, we won last week, so I wanted them to win this week.’”

Informed their opponent had also won the week before, the Queen of Defense stepped up her game.

You can’t let it get too serious at this age, said Dawson, whose daughter, Savannah, is one of the team’s top players.

Coaches Dallas Monroe and Dawson go over last-minute instructions.

“Having fun is the most important thing,” he said, “and you want them to learn to be on a team. You try to celebrate the wins and not make a big deal about the losses.”

It’s a sentiment Parks & Rec league director Chris Clark shares.

“We see a recreational opportunity for kids to learn the sport, but there’s so much more you can take into your life, the team aspect, respect, sportsmanship,” he said. “We ask our coaches to teach these kids the game of soccer, the fundamentals. The first part of fundamentals is fun.”

When Yalove first revealed her Maddinator alter ego, mom, Holly, immediately wanted to know why.

“She said, ‘Because I’m blessed with the power of good,’” Holly said.

The Queen of Defense came later, but even there powerful forces were at work.

“Elvis and my dad have the same birthday,” Alex said.

Look out, Skynet. This kid’s the real deal.

















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