ECNL AYW SPOTLIGHT – MAIA MORRELL by Joana Bromley
February 21, 2019 (RICHMOND, VA) – The ECNL and the Amazing Young Women movement continues to showcase extraordinary females that have helped to shape the league into the top development platform in the world. As part of this movement, inspiring females across the country have offered to share their stories. This week we are honored to feature Maia Morrell as the ECNL Amazing Young Women Spotlight of the Week.
Morrell is currently a Freshman at Georgetown Visitation High School. Roughly one year ago Morrell decided to make the transition to play for McLean Soccer Club where she takes care of business as a co-captain and outside back for her team. Morrell reflects on her transition to the club, “The intensity and level of play is intense, I wasn’t used to playing such a quick game. The commitment level is much higher as well, everyone is dedicated and working towards the same goal.” Her diligence and determination have allowed her to make big strides in her game while at McLean. “She has grown significantly in the short time she has been playing for the club,” expressed ECNL Director, Clyde Watson. “She has an extraordinary amount of tenacity and is willing to compete for everything, every minute, of every game,” adds Watson. Morrell could not be happier about her choice adding, “I have become a more versatile and aggressive player, and have made big improvements on my technical skills since joining the club.”
Morrell has not had the smoothest path to soccer success, as she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 11. This is a hereditary autoimmune condition which causes the pancreases to stop producing insulin consequently, requiring Morrell to manage her blood sugar levels and self-administer insulin. “When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t understand what was going on,” reflects Morrell. Managing her diabetes was no easy task, but she was inspired and determined to continue playing the game she loved after receiving a letter from UCLA basketball player, Kacy Swain. “She told me that she knows how scary diabetes can be, but that she made it to the top and I can too,” said Morrell. “I was in a state where I felt like no one understood what was going on, so to know someone else felt the exact same way, and was able to accomplish their dreams made me so happy. She made me believe that everything was going to be okay.”
Morrell has developed a routine and takes her preparation for practices and games seriously. “I have to prepare for every performance by knowing what my blood sugar is, paying special attention to what I eat and when I eat,” says Morrell. While McLean supports Morrell in the management of her diabetes, Watson mentioned, “She doesn’t want to be treated any differently. I am amazed at how she manages it on her own during every practice and game while continuing to play the game with such joy and content.” From the moment that Morrell joined McLean, her teammates were supportive and understanding, “Some of my teammates even keep sugar in their bags just in case anything would happen,” she adds.
Morrell manages the obstacle of being diabetic and an elite level athlete with ease. She doesn’t let it affect her game in the slightest, and has a positive attitude and outlook on and off the pitch. “I have diabetes, it is always going to be there, but I don’t let it control me or get the best of me,” expressed Morrell. Her attitude and work ethic are contagious amongst her coach and teammates. “She has made an impression on me, and quite honestly, she has become one of the people I admire most,” Watson said about his experience coaching Morrell.
Morrell seems to motivate anyone she comes into contact with, coach, player or spectator. She is persistent and believes that as long as she approaches situations with positivity that she can overcome any obstacle that life throws her way. Morrell speaks about her mindset, “It is so important to have the right attitude. I remind myself that I can do anything I put my mind to and remain focused on the things I can do, instead of the things I can’t.”
We are so grateful that Maia Morrell has shared her story and displays daily what is means to be an Amazing Young Women. Her diligence and dedication to the beautiful game, despite the obstacles she has faced, has and will continue to inspire many. We wish her the best of luck in the 2018-19 ECNL season and the rest of her soccer journey.
About Girls Elite Clubs National League: The Girls Elite Clubs National League (Girls ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.