Athlete Spotlight : Maria Henderson


Megan Swartzendruber

Maria Henderson ’25 stands looking towards her team mates.

Megan Swartzendruber, Reporter

City High’s JV1 Girls soccer team is currently 2 – 4 – 4.  But that isn’t stopping them from pushing through the season, including newest member, #2. 

Maria Henderson started the season not planning on joining the City High team, she planned on playing with the Iowa City Kickers. But after some consideration and time, she decided to do both, just like some of her other teammates. 

“So with my public league, I play for Kickers. It has two seasons. It has the fall season and the spring season.” Maria Henderson 25’ says, “And I definitely feel that the spring season is more of my preparation time because we have our championship but other than that, I really don’t prepare for soccer outside of that time.”

Though she knows without saying that she will be able to trash talk to any player who tries to mess with her.

“I can be a pretty sour player at times, I will admit that, but I guess that comes with the sport. We have to be able to handle being talked about. So definitely, you have to be strong with that kind of stuff. [But] that goes without saying that other teams do the same.”

It’s ok when they do talk trash because the girls have each other and their teammates to yell at them, to get it together. Even if they are across the field, someone is sure to help them get in line.

“Miranda, our goalie, is one person who communicates greatly. She’s one who really is able to see the whole field at all times. So she’s one telling us where we should be and stuff like that. But then also our defenders, Lili and Iris, do a great job with communication. But one key thing for communication is spacing, if you’re too close, it can be hard to communicate then, but then also if you’re too far apart, it’s also hard to communicate because they would have to yell like, even louder.”

Though it seems like the team environment can be harsh, just like anything team.

“For the most part positive, but there can be sometimes like where there’s kind of like a gray haze over the team. It’d be like we’re all really down about like a previous loss or we’re all just having one of those days where we don’t really want to cooperate I guess but for the most part, it’s a positive atmosphere.”

Almost done with the season Maria Henderson is proud with how it has gone so far. 

“I definitely say that it’s been going very well for me considering the fact that I moved up to JV from JV2 to and also the fact that I even got to join soccer considering the fact that I wasn’t originally going for soccer. But like the fact that I’ve made a lot of new close friends has also made me feel like I made the right decision.”

She has made decisions on what to do in soccer for the longest time. Though soccer isn’t the only sport she has made decisions in.

“I have played soccer since I was in preschool I believe. But that’s just like a public league. But this is the first time I’ve done it like where it’s like restricted who could join. [Soccer is] one of my main sports, basketball and soccer are the two main because I’ve been playing them the longest but then recently, I went out for volleyball for school.”

She still agrees that soccer is one of the most important sports for her, but everyone has their weaknesses. 

“Running. I’m not an endurance runner. But I love that’s one of the reasons why I play forward because they don’t have to worry about playing with defensive stuff like that. But then also refs are another thing I don’t like but I guess they have to be there.”

Talking about running, some of Maria’s biggest inspirations have had to run on a field that is 120 yds and 80 yds wide. 

“Megan Rapinoe or Alex Morgan, are some of my biggest inspirations. I like the fact that they speak up about women’s rights and that they’re on the US team. I’d say that they’re definitely two of my biggest inspirations.”

And just like how these players play, Maria has some special moves she uses to act and look great.

“I’ve been doing it every single game, it is called megging, and that’s where you’re able to get the ball between the other team’s legs and then be able to retrieve it on the other side of them. I like this one because that kind of humbles them, but then also like it’s just fun to do. Another one I really like doing is pushing the ball one way like I have my body weight go that way also, so the other player goes that way. Then just quickly switch my other foot around to the other side to go to the outside of my foot to push the ball away to another direction. That’s another thing I love doing, it’s like faking them out. Basically, it’s kind of like when you break someone’s ankle in basketball.”

Though these moves she likes she still acknowledges the fact that soccer is a team sport and she can’t play without her team.

“Well it’s a team sport. So there’s really not like a couple people. That I have been able to work with. I have to work with everyone from the other two strikers back to the goalie. Because the goalie sees the whole field and the other two strikers help me get the ball towards the goal. But then also the midfielders, because they play both offense and defense, so they help all over the field. They have to try to send the ball up to the forwards then, so it’s all about communication and knowing where everyone is.”

Maria hasn’t been on the JV1 team all season, and she wasn’t even there for the beginning. But, she is there now and thriving better than ever. Always with some kind of energy around her. Whether it is good or bad energy is still up for debate.