A team can only be as strong as its weakest link. This offseason, the University of Minnesota soccer team had one of their own to help the team be as ready as possible once August comes along.
Over this summer, senior defender Maddie Gaffney took up an internship with the University of Minnesota Strength and Conditioning program. She worked with various teams, but also oversaw her soccer teammates.
“Some days were busier than others, I took them to do drills and helped Corey (Peterson) observe sprints and all the different running that we do. Then we went down to the weight room and I would help count, correct form and once in a while I chimed in with my opinions.”
Throughout the summer, Peterson said that Gaffney was a role model for many of the athletes including her teammates.
“It was amazing having her around. She developed throughout the entire summer and by the end I could really trust her to demonstrate and be able to handle the student-athletes,” said Peterson. “I was able to trust her more as the summer went on, and being that there are some professional athletes she was working with, I was really impressed.”
Gaffney said she has always had an interest in physical training and simply loves the attitude of the athletes she gets to work with.
“This is a great environment and I love it. Everyone works hard and wants to get better when they come in, that’s one of the biggest qualities I love,” said Gaffney. “I love learning more about my sport and what I am doing, and since I was already here for the summer it was a simple choice to do this internship.”
Gaffney said the internship has not just helped her realize what she wants to do after school, but it could help her improve her play on the field.
“I think my overall communication will improve,” explained Gaffney. “That was something I have struggled with in past years, and since I am a senior, I need to step up in that way. I think just being more vocal and being a bigger part of the team in that aspect will help a lot.”
Striving to become a leader both on and off the pitch, Gaffney says she hopes her teammates have taken her strength and conditioning tips seriously.
“I hope underclassmen respect me enough to know that I have been through this for three years, so I kind of know what I am doing. Even Tori (Burnett), she knows because I am working day in a day out, she can listen to me and take it to heart and learn from it.”
Tori agreed that she loved having Gaffney around in the weight room.
“It has been a blast having her in the weight room because she knows exactly what we are going through,” Burnett said. “She is one of those people who can tell you what you need to fix without making you feel foolish or inadequate and she’s also extremely funny which is really refreshing.”
With her oversight in the weight room, Gaffney said this team could be one of the strongest Gopher teams in recent memory.
“Of course we can be the strongest. Every year is a new year, and we have some great potential coming in. Our team has a solid base of a team coming back, so it will be a great year.”
The Gophers will begin the season with a pair of exhibition games starting on August 6, with the regular season starting on August 18 on the road against Washington State.
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