As a 7-year-old, Maddie Eastus played up a few age groups as a forward on the OVYSL Shark Bites U9 club team. Eastus’ 23 goals over 10 games was more than the rest of the nine other teams in the Coast Copper A South Division combined.
Excelling at sports at such an early age isn’t a great predictor of future success, but in Eastus’ case, her dominant 2010 season was a harbinger. The Gilroy High senior has signed a letter of intent to play for Division I program University of Northern Iowa.
“I’m excited that I’ll be able to continue playing in college,” she said. “I really like their coaches, the players on the team, the chemistry. They had my major (microbiology) and I want to expand my horizons a little. Move from California and try something new. I know it might be tough at first, but it’ll be a growing experience and sure to be fun. I definitely need some independence and need to learn to be independent.”
Eastus said other Division I programs like Oregon State, San Jose State, Cal Poly and UC Irvine offered scholarships, but the striker who scored 24 goals last season to earn Pacific Coast League Mission Division Offensive Most Valuable Player honors chose Northern Iowa in part because she liked their style of play.
“They play a possessive style, are very aggressive, play with heart and go all out,” she said.
Eastus has been an exemplary leader as she has served as Gilroy’s captain since her sophomore year. She started off this season with a bang, scoring five goals in a blowout win over San Benito (her career high is seven goals last year against King City). In her first club game as a 6-year-old, Eastus scored four goals—against boys no less. From that point on, Eastus put it in her mind she was going to play soccer at the highest level.
“Soccer is my passion and I can’t live without it,” she said.
The Northern Iowa coaches invited Eastus to one of their own camps after watching her play at a showcase camp in Oakland in 2019. In conversations with the coaching staff, Eastus said they liked her movement, dribbling skills, field awareness and passing ability. The two sides continued talking, leading Northern Iowa to offer a scholarship last November.
Gilroy coach Efren Pineda has been thoroughly impressed with Eastus’ growth both physically and mentally.
“Maddie is a very impressive player that has grown tremendously in the four years that I have been with the program,” Pineda said.
Assuming she stays healthy and continues to develop, Eastus eventually plans on playing for Galway United, a professional club in Ireland. Eastus is a tireless worker, routinely doing explosive strength-training movements and drills to continually develop her strength and speed. Her mom, Jana, is a certified CrossFit coach and helps Maddie with her strength, while trainer Edson Cardona has been helping Eastus lately with her quickness and agility on the pitch.
Eastus is currently playing for three teams: Gilroy and two club teams, West Coast and Pajaro Valley United. Even though playing for three teams at once is a huge load, Eastus wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s hard but also good for me to get in as many games as I can before I leave for college,” she said. “I’m getting stronger, and that will help me against college competition.”