Wilmington, NC - Many members of the Cape Fear men's soccer team stood out this season for their performances on the pitch. However, midfielder Taylor Maready stood out for reasons off of it.
Maready is a non-traditional student. Unlike many of his teammates, he isn't recently out of high school. However, he is familiar with the Sea Devil Soccer program. Maready previously played for Cape Fear Community College while he attended the school in 2007. Because he redshirted that season, his eligibility remained, so when the 29 year old re-enrolled at Cape Fear this semester, he rejoined the Sea Devil Men's Soccer program 11 years after initially making the team and redshirting.
When Maready approached head coach C.W. Ponton about trying out, Ponton was skeptical, "I told him before he came on trial that I thought he was crazy, but I'd give him a shot," said Ponton. "Little did I know at that time the impression he would make on our young players."
Maready featured in only seven games for the Sea Devils this season, starting in his final game on October 13th against USC Lancaster, a 3-0 victory for the Sea Devils. However, his impact came from the lessons and wisdom he shared with his younger teammates.
Forward DaShaun Brown stated that Maready "brought positivity."
"He [was] always encouraging everyone to keep their heads and relax," said Brown. "He also brought heart and hard work. He has influenced me a lot, if not everyone on the team. Whenever he goes on the field he gives it everything he has and I see it and I think everyone else does as well. In my eyes, the heart and determination he has for soccer pushes everyone on the team to work hard and stay focused."
Sophomore and team captain Eion Dockery agreed.
"Taylor brought a level of maturity that was unlike any teammate that I and I'm sure most of the guys have ever played with. His motivation and consistent positive attitude through hard times during our season helped keep us up and continue to do what we needed to do. He is a great teammate and great a friend. You don't find people like Maready very often, so that made the time we all had with him even more meaningful."
Maready's maturity certainly stems from being older, but his success outside of soccer has helped as well. As the owner of Ecological Marine Adventures, Maready has life experiences to share.
As first year assistant coach, and former Sea Devils captain McCartney Barrier notes, Maready's passion for the team was invaluable. Barrier felt Maready's influence helped the team bond this season.
"He is the reason everyone gets along. He is the reason we have good young men on the team, because Taylor makes us not just better players or coaches, but better men, husbands, and coaches. It was an honor to coach him in my first year, and I hope that I have a player like Maready every year I coach.
Fifth year Assistant coach Chris Harper wasn't sure Maready would make the team, but he realized after the first day of tryouts that he would have an important role on the team.
"His determination, desire, and work ethic stood out for sure. He had something that could not be taught and that was heart. Every coach looks for that. It may sound cliche, but it's the truth. It was clear he would be a leader, maybe not vocal per se but by example, and every player looked up to him and respected him.
Coach Ponton praised Maready's ability to impact the team while balancing a life of work and family off the field.
"He lead without being asked, he never complained when he didn't play at all, he pushed himself and his teammates to do their best on and off the field. He set the tone for no excuses, ever! I don't have any other players who are married, have two or any kids, or own their own business, all while being full time at Cape Fear. I was very pleased with what he brought to our family. I saw him improve as a player and help mold these young men into the men they will soon become."
Ultimately, Maready defied the odds for the collegiate game and his efforts most certainly did not go unnoticed by his peers and the coaching staff.
It's hard to find players like Maready," said coach Ponton. "We are going to miss him, but he knows he will always have a family here at Cape Fear."
Courtesy of Nick Denning