WILLIAMSTON – There’s something in the water at the Clem household.
With her two sisters already putting together decorated careers as Division I goalkeepers, Williamston High School senior Madison Clem is in the process of trying to follow suit.
Madison, who verbally committed to Michigan State as a sophomore, signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday to honor her commitment and become a member of the Spartans’ women’s soccer team next season.
“My sisters inspired me,” said Madison, whose cousin, Lauren Clem, is also a goalkeeper at Northwestern. “I was just training my whole life, and I just knew I wanted to play college soccer.”
Madison’s oldest sister, Courtney, began the domino effect. Courtney, who led the Big Ten in saves (114) during her senior season with MSU in 2014, was the first to pick up the sport.
Courtney said the love for the game was triggered after she played on a playground during her younger years. It blossomed into a passion – one that would resonate throughout the rest of her siblings – shortly after.
“I told my parents that I wanted to play soccer, and they said, ‘What is soccer?’” Courtney recalls. “I’m extremely proud that they’ve followed in my footsteps and that I’ve been a mentor for them over the last several years.”
Madison’s older sisters agree that the she is a combination of both of them. Caitlyn, the middle of the three, who is a redshirt junior keeper at Wisconsin, said her younger sister has her athleticism and the technical abilities of Courtney.
Caitlyn remembers a recent trip back home where she and Courtney were watching Madison compete at a camp. She remembers thinking that her younger sister could end up being the best of the group.
“It was my first time seeing her at a higher level, and I remember she just made this amazing save,” Caitlyn said. “Courtney and I were just screaming so loud, and I was like, ‘Geez, Courtney. She might be better than both of us.’
“Now, it’s fun to see her because she just surprises you every time.”
While Madison is a senior, this spring will be the first time she will compete for her high school. She spent the first three years of high school playing with her club team, Michigan Hawks, and garnering national recognition through the travel circuit.
Rules don’t permit a player to participate in both club and high school soccer during the same season.
And now that she has her future decided, she’s ready to compete with the friends she has walked the halls with for years.
“Playing with the ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) Michigan Hawks, there’s a lot of traveling,” Madison said. “Now that I’m already committed, I just wanted to come play locally for my high school. I never got the chance to do that, so I just want to have some fun my last year.”
Madison will be walking into a program that not only has had recent success – the Hornets were Division 3’s third-ranked team before losing in the regional finals a year ago – but a program that has a recent history of having standout keepers.
Aside from her sisters, Madison will follow in the footsteps of Grace Kraft (Ferris State) and will be joined this season by Cora Hall, who recently received a full academic scholarship to Ferris State and will join the university’s club team.
First-year Williamston coach Steve Horn, who was an assistant to longtime coach Jim Flore for several years, said the position has been one of the program’s strongest during his time. And even though Madison has yet to sport the green, white and black uniforms, Horn said the team has responded well during offseason workout to Madison, who has grown up and gone to school with her new teammates for most of her life.
“I was definitely feeling good about the goalkeeper situation already, but when we found out that Madison was going to play, of course, it strengthens (our) team, as well,” Horn said. “It’s like passing on the ‘Goalkeeper U’ mentality when you have the Clems — Grace, Cora, and Madison comes back – it’s like a lineage of great goalkeepers.
“(Madison) is going to bring a lot. Just from workouts, conditioning, and the things we’ve been doing, she’s a leader. …It’s funny that she stepped right in and is the person that leads the chants.”
Madison gives a lot the credit to her sisters for where she is at today. However, there’s still a sibling rivalry.
She wants her name to be at the top.
“I want to try and beat my sister’s (Caitlyn) shutout record (18),” Madison said. “I’m just going to go out and try to help lead us to a championship.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.