Freshman Chris Madsen is not indifferent to making sacrifices and increasing his work load to help his team. During his junior year in high school, he was asked to switch positions and become the starting goalkeeper after playing forward his whole soccer career. Then, midway through the following season, he was asked to switch back to the forward position to help his team once again.
So, when asked what he thought he brought to this year's Marquette men's soccer team, would it surprise you that he said his work ethic?
"Mainly he (Head Coach Louis Bennett) wanted my speed, and I take pride in that, but more importantly I bring a never-give-up work ethic," said Madsen. "I will do whatever it is that the team needs me to do. Even if the team needs me to sit on the bench because I need to learn to help later, then I'm not going to complain because that's what the team needs and that's what is most important."
Madsen, a team captain and three-year varsity letterman, played his high school soccer at nearby Brookfield Central, where he compiled some impressive honors. During his senior year, Madsen notched 19 goals and eight assists in a mere 20 games after starting the season in goal. His performance earned him First-Team All-Conference, Area, State, and Midwest selections; not to mention a team M.V.P. award and Golden Boot award.
Still, Madsen says that being a team captain his senior year was his most cherished honor.
"Out of all those honors, I take the team captain as the one that means the most to me," Madsen said. "I am really proud that I got to wear that ‘C' on my arm and have the chance to be a team leader."
While Madsen admits that he never thought he would be recruited by a big-time school like Marquette after the switch to goalkeeper his junior year, he does say that his high school soccer experience at Brookfield Central was invaluable to him.
"Coach [Jon] Mroz is definitely one of the main reasons that I am here [at Marquette]. He was the kind of coach that will not accept mediocrity. He always seemed to have a solution for everything; he really knows the game well."
It was also Mroz that gave Madsen the motivation to become the player that he is today.
"The big thing that keyed me to the strengths that I have now as a forward was Coach Mroz naming me a team captain. I was like, ‘Alright, I got to get prepared, I got to get in shape and I got to lift.' Jeff Baker (Brookfield fitness coach) set up a program for our soccer team and I did everything he said and I honestly believe that the speed that I have now, which got me recruited, is because of Jeff Baker and his training."
This exceptional speed that Madsen has developed might also land him playing time elsewhere on the pitch than at his typical central forward, or striker, position.
"Coach [Bennett] looked at our scores from the sprinting tests and mine was the fastest on the team and he says to me that our wing play is a big part of the system, so he is putting me out wide right [in the midfield] currently."
Under Bennett, Marquette shows a 4-5-1 formation as its system, which features a triangular, central midfield with two outside midfielders, the wings, and a lone striker up top. This is similar to what Madsen played in at Brookfield Central – the classic Dutch 4-3-3 formation with a triangular central midfield and three forwards, with the two on the outside acting like wings. So as far as a pure tactical switch, Madsen says the two systems don't have too much uncommon except that his defensive responsibility will be greater in Bennett's.
Like many other successful players, Madsen models his game after one of his favorite pro talents, Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutch striker played for Ajax, Inter Milan, and Arsenal at the club level in Europe, but is most renowned for his great touch on the ball and being able to finish in almost any circumstance. That skill is something Madsen hopes to key his success on as well.
"He's not one of those guys who are flashy, but he knows how to put the ball in the back of the net and work his tail off, so I look at his work for inspiration," said Madsen.
Though it remains clear to anyone who has watched Madsen play that he already knows how to "work his tail off," he still focuses on trying to better all aspects of his game. When asked about what he is specifically working on, Madsen mentioned his fitness, crossing the ball, and becoming a more mentally strong player.
"I am trying to simplify my game, not ask too much of myself but also not ask too little of myself either," Madsen said.
Not only does Madsen turn heads on the field but he does so off the field as well. In high school he was the senior class president, attained a 3.5 Cumulative GPA, was a Sports Super Fan (equivalent to a Marquette Fanatic), and received the Phil Kheun award for his success in the classroom, attendance at every practice, and his ability to show great leadership on and off the field.
When asked how he likes Marquette so far, Madsen simply replied that he loved it and is enjoying all aspects of his experience thus far. He plans to major in History Education and possibly minor in Political Science.
Looks like Marquette got a good one in Chris Madsen.
Nick Chmurski is a sophomore majoring in business administration.