The James M. Bennett baseball team won its first state title in seven years, defeating C. Milton Wright, 5-3. Richard Pollitt, Salisbury Daily Times
Madison Synowiec wakes up every morning to an inspirational message posted on her wall.
The words read, âYouâre too smart, too talented and too fun to watch for you to stop. Be in the moment. Dominate the day.â It came from an email sent by Salisbury University womenâs soccer coach Kwame Lloyd.
He reached out following Synowiecâs third knee surgery that ultimately ended the rising seniorâs soccer career. As a midfielder for the James M. Bennett girls soccer team, she was selected to the all-conference first team in 2018 and helped the Clippers win the Bayside Championship.
But the 2018 season would be her last, as doctors told Synowiec following her surgery in March the risk of further injury was too great. If she wanted full mobility of her left leg in the future, contact sports would have to be put to the side.
Dating back to February 2017, Synowiec has since suffered multiple ACL and meniscus tears in her left leg. The injuries left her with just one full season of high school soccer and countless hours of physical therapy.
Synowiec loves soccer, kicking a ball since she could first walk due in part to her parents’ background in the sport. But she understood her future would be more important than a few extra years on the field.
Instead, Synowiec had taken another route, one that allows her to compete and showcase her talents.
The rising senior will begin to participate in triathlons and also hopes to join Bennettâs cross country team in the fall.
She said giving up soccer was one of the hardest moments of her life, but as she moves forward, Synowiec is focused on whatâs ahead and proving she has the athletic ability to compete with the best.
âEven if I canât play soccer, I just have to take it day by day and realize thereâs other things that I can do,â she said. âI can set new goals that I can push toward. I was just glad to have the one good season and the time I had playing soccer.â
Synowiec began her soccer career with the Salisbury Football Club before traveling over the bridge to try out for Maryland United when she was in seventh grade. Part of the Elite Clubs National League â one of the top female leagues in the country â the midfielder was able to grow her skills as she prepared for the high school level.
Before hitting a prep field, Synowiec reached outÂ to college coaches, and received interest from Division I programs and looked on track to have a long future in soccer.
She stayed with Maryland United through eighth grade, driving over the bridge twice a week in preparation for games on the weekend.
Then, Synowiec suffered her first injury.
During an indoor game, she planted her foot, made a turn and immediately knew something was wrong. A month later, Synowiec went through surgery and spent her freshman season in recovery.
Once the doctors signed off on her progress, Synowiec was prepared to play, taking the practice field one day before she was slated to play in game action.Â
But as she reached for the ball, she felt a similar pain, tearing her medial meniscus. Another surgery for a full repair kept Synowiec again on the sidelines, but she remained optimistic about suiting up for the Clippers.
âThereâs always going to be adversity, thereâs always going to be challenges, but itâs about what you make of it,â she said.
After another several months of recovery, Synowiec finally accomplished her goal and took the field for Bennett in 2018. She helped the Clippers to an undefeated regular season record which included nine shutouts. The team also averaged more than sixÂ goals a game.
Earning a first-round bye in the 3A state tournament, Bennett took down teams like Stephen Decatur and Chesapeake before falling to Mt. Hebron in the regional championship, ending the season.
But midway through the yearÂ during a practice, Synowiec again felt a pain in her left knee, but pushed through to complete the season.
Following the playoff loss, the junior had an MRI thatÂ revealed her meniscus had torn again. Her third surgery took place in March, removing part of the cartilage.
She was told her ACL was too stretched out and unstable, running the risk of further injury or permanent damage.
As she drove home with her mother, Synowiec finally came to the realization that her soccer careerÂ was in the past.
âI obviously donât want to lose this, but I want to be smart,â she said. âThis isnât everything in life. It was really emotional, and it took a while to really accept that. Going from something I did everything single day to now âŠ it was tough.â
Once she put soccer to the side, Synowiec began researching triathlons and looking for other athletic activities.Â
Her father is a major tri-athlete who has competed in world championships. Synowiec had also competed in mini-triathlons as a kid.
Between swimming, biking and running, she hopes to continue her athletic drive but in a new environment.
âIâve mostly done sprint distance triathlons, and Iâve got one planned for September, so thatâs what Iâm training for right now,â Synowiec said.
In preparation for the events, she began training with Cody Revel of The Athlete Academy, who said others canât even pick up on Synowiecâs injury history. She works harder than most and always pushes herself to do whatever any other athlete does.Â
âShe realizes this is the hand that was dealt, and sheâs going to live with it,â Revel said. âThereâs no complaints âÂ letâs just get after it. I think thatâs awesome and really speaks to a higher level. Sheâs going to keep working to make herself better.â
When the Bennett soccer team takes the field in 2019, Synowiec will be in a familiar spot â watching from the side.
But now accepting whatâs happened, sheâs ready to take the next step and find a new activity to enjoy.
Soccer may not be Synowiecâs future, but it also wonât be what defines her as an athlete.
âEvery time I injured myself, I had the mindset, âIâm going to get back,ââ she said. âI always imagined myself playing college soccer, but then obviously this happened. I mostly have to focus on other things now to keep me distracted from soccer.
âBut thatâs alright.â