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BY JEFF FALK

Maddie Good isn’t particularly concerned with being the best female basketball player in Lebanon County. What matters to Good is becoming the best soccer player she possibly can be.

That’s right, Lebanon County’s finest female basketball player isn’t playing basketball this season. She is focusing all of  her energies into her first and true love, soccer.

A key member of the Palmyra girls’ basketball program, Good really came into her own as a sophomore last season for the Cougars. But during this past summer, Good, a versatile, highly skilled 5-11 point forward, and her sister Cali, a senior guard and defensive wiz, informed Palmyra head coach Ron Berman of their intentions to not come out for the team and concentrate on soccer.

After the shock and surprise wore off, tears and emotions ensued. But there were never hard feelings.

“I think for basketball not being my number one sport, I did good,” said Good, humbly. “When I played, I did well. They (the Cougar girls) have so many good players. They’re not going to miss us. Obviously they’re doing fine.

“I kind of miss not playing games, not playing basketball,” Good continued. “A couple of days ago I was in the gym and there was a basketball laying there. I picked it up and started shooting. I miss the girls because they’re so much like family. I just miss all of that.”

It is Good’s goal and dream to play Division One soccer in college, and in order for her to do that, she believes it must reside at the top of her priority list. She and her sister Cali have been playing soccer year-round for quite some time now, something they’ve had to juggle with the rigors of the basketball season in the past.

Had she chosen to pursue basketball in college, Good probably could’ve competed on the Division Two or Three levels.

“Last year when I was a sophomore, I knew I’d have problems my junior year,” said Good. “I knew I’d have to compromise my schedule or not play basketball. It took me months to come to a conclusion, that this is what I had to do.

“I think I might’ve had some opportunities to go some places on the Division Three level in basketball,” Good added. “But I don’t know if I could’ve gotten to Division Two. But I definitely wouldn’t have had as many opportunities as soccer.”

“Maddie Good would’ve been a thousand-point scorer,” said Berman. “She started two years for me. She’s a legitimate 5-11. She’s a mature young woman whose skills got better and better. She could’ve been a Division Two or Division Three college player. I don’t like her not playing, but the Goods are nothing but classy kids. I have nothing but tremendous respect for them.”

With M. Good and C. Good in the fold in 2011-12, Palmyra won its second straight Mid-Penn Keystone division championship, went 23-5 overall, finished third among Class AAA squads in the District Three playoffs and advanced to states.

“I remember playing at Giant Center, which is such a cool experience,” said Good of last season. “That and the close relationships we had with the other players. It always seemed like family.

“The thing I like about basketball is that there’s not so many players,” continued Good. “You have to play defense. You have to play offense. You’ve got to dribble. You’ve got to shoot. You’re responsible for so much. And the pace is so fast, so it’s never boring.”

After months of contemplation, the Goods broke the news to Berman in June. Since then, the Goods have been guests at Berman’s home.

“It was awful. It was miserable,” said Good of her and Cali’s meeting with Berman. “Cali and I were balling. We were such a mess. I remember how hard it was and how sad it was.

“I think he (Berman) was definitely surprised,” Good added. “He said he would’ve worked with us. He was disappointed, but he was understanding. He knew we had to do what we had to do.”

To this point of the current season, Palmyra, 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Keystone Division, have felt no ill effects of the Goods’ decision. When the Cougars might miss them is in the depths of the postseason.

“I was able to get to one game so far,” said Good, who is now the Cougars’ number-one fan. “I’m hoping to be able to get to most of them. It was weird. I felt like I should be out there with them. I felt like I should be in the locker room with them. When all the coaches came out I hugged them. It helped that it wasn’t a close game. I think when I see them play a close game it’ll be hard, because I’ll feel like I want to help.

“I started playing soccer when I was four, and I started playing basketball when I was in third or fourth grade,” added Good. “For awhile, my favorite sport would depend on the season. Then it got to the point where my dream was playing soccer in college, and I couldn’t live without soccer.”

As all good big sisters do, Cali Good has sort of blazed a path for Maddie. C. Good accepted an athletic grant-in-aid to play soccer from Division One Canisius in January of her junior year.

“We play soccer year-round,” said Maddie Good of her sister. “There were big tournaments I felt like I had to be at. Cali went through the conflicts last year. Your junior year is so important for recruiting. She prepped me for how hard it was going to be, with school work on top of that. For me, I’m just trying to get a scholarship.

“Cali’s played a big role in it,” continued Good. “She kind of went through everything first. She helped prep me for it. She was really helpful.”

A high-scoring and physically gifted striker for the Cougars’ girls’ soccer team, Good is being looked at by schools like Georgetown, Holy Cross and Stonybrook.

“My goal is to get a Division One scholarship, and to be able to contribute and help the team,” said Good. “It’s crazy. You go to all these tournaments and it’s like, ‘Wow! How do the college coaches know what to look for when there’s all these girls?’ I have to take advantage of my opportunities and get in front of these coaches. And I have to perform when I get those opportunities.

“For soccer, recruiting is really early,” Good added. “I have a good idea that there’s a lot of programs interested in me. I have some visits planned for January. Cali committed in January of her junior year. I’m hoping to commit in January or February.”

If everything goes as Good hopes, her college plans will be cemented by the time the next girls’ basketball season – her senior year – rolls around. But even under the most perfect of circumstances, Good sees her chances of playing basketball again as slim.

“I don’t want to say it’s out of the picture,” said Good. “If I could, I would definitely play. But I don’t even know if my college coach would allow me to play. I want to, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

 

 

 

 

 

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