Photo/James Pugh

A familiar face of the South Jones girls soccer program has signed with East Central Community College. Madison Diers, a mainstay for the program since her seventh-grade year, inked her LOI (Letter of Intent) in front of family, coaches and teammates inside the South Jones Media Center Friday morning. 

“This is a good day,” said Diers. “It means that all my work has paid off. I’m worked my butt off since I was four to play this game. Getting to play for Coach Ryan [Joiner] is amazing.”

Joiner was named the women’s soccer coach at East Central Community College back in January. He was a former league soccer coach of Diers on the coast.

“I didn’t think I’d get the chance to play for him again,” said Diers. “I liked the atmosphere [at East Central], and I like the way he coaches. I love the way they all support each other. It feels like a family there.”

Diers traveled to Costa Rico to play international soccer during the time Joiner was her coach.

“We played against three different teams and won two out of the three,” Diers recalled. “We did many other things on the trip like ziplining, whitewater rafting, as well as missions work. 

“It was a great experience. It taught me that we often take for granted the opportunities given to us. We went to an orphanage, and I couldn’t help but think of the things [we Americans] take for granted.”

Other offers Diers received ranged from the JUCO levels to Division 1 universities. On the JUCO level, Diers was offered scholarships by Jones College and Pearl River; larger school’s included William Carey, University of Illinois and Wisconsin. 

“She’s one of our top goal scorers and top leaders in assist,” said Lady Braves head soccer coach Tony Buckley. “This year she is our captain, and she’s showing great leadership. We will miss her [after this year], but she’s going to enjoy herself at East Central Community College thoroughly. She’s familiar with the coach, and we’re very proud of her.”

Buckley has coached Diers at South Jones from her start in the seventh grade. He says her leadership skills are what have grown the most. 

“Everything about her has grown,” said Buckley. “She’s a complete player; she can play anywhere on the field except goal. She’s very fast, she can score, and she can pass. She’s an athletic young lady. This year as a captain she’s showing her leadership skills, and that is the biggest change.”

Last season as a junior, Diers scored 14 goals and aided in another 29. South Jones finished the 2017-2018 season 14-7-1 and 5-1 in Region 5-5A. She has the typical goal for the season now in session.

“To win state,” Dier said when asked about her goals this season. “But personally I want to get better and help my team. It’s my senior year, and I want to have fun.”