MARIETTA, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - We've told you that three women on the US women's soccer team are Georgians. Two of them from right here in metro Atlanta. You probably think, 'Oh, that's cool." But to one young lady her love of soccer actually got her an invitation to meet the team.
Cherokee County's 11-year-old Madison Maddox plays for a top-notch, very competitive team called NASA Tophat. It's the same team that US player Emily Sonnett played for. Same coach, too. And when her coach showed her Emily Sonnett playing in a game, well, that was it; she was in. And this American defender caught wind of this and said, girl, I'm treating you to a game in California.
"It was like a dream only better," Madison recently told me fieldside about her invitation to join the team.
"The first time I ever saw her play it was in 2015, and I was hooked! When I saw her I was, like, if she can do that, and she went to the same club, same coaches, same almost everything then I can do that same thing."
She was so inspired she dressed as Emily Sonnett for Halloween. And with social media what it is, well, her idol saw it then flew her out West to a match to see a team of stars who are representing our country in France.
Grinning ear-to-ear she said, "I got to see Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan, almost everybody. Tobin Heath, everyone."
Again, a dream come true.
"They know that a lot of girls look up to them, and they know they have girls who want to be just like them, and they have this girl who wants to be just like them."
So she was surprised when she heard Emily Sonnett turned the tables on her.
"She said, 'When I saw that picture I knew I was going to invite you to that game.' She said I inspired her!"
And this young lady is inspirational. You see, she's out there taking a beating on that back line on the pitch. It's not for sissies. But what spectators may not see is that Madi can often play in pain. Real pain.
She was born with Hirschsprung's disease, a painful genetic intestinal disorder that requires hospitalizations and surgeries. But her teammates, she told me, have her back.
"The teammates that you just saw, they just come up to me. They are the best teammates ever."
And sure, it gets her down, but she has her own magic pill.
"My Dad and Mom talk to me, but it doesn't really help. But whenever I go into the basement, it's like a whole new world. I can just hit the soccer ball and I'm in happy world."
Sure she dreams of making it to the World Cup, but she also knows if she doesn't she's earned a lifetime of lessons from playing soccer.
"I will get a life lesson. I have good teammates I know how to share and I just really know how life works."
She sure does.