Soccer player inspired by mother’s death, plays hard

Meagan Larsen/BYU
Madi Lyons runs the ball during a game. Lyons has been playing soccer all her life and honors her family and heritage as she pursues her dream.

Madie Lyons rushed to her semi-final soccer game after attending her mother’s funeral. She refused to miss such an important game. The Lyons family jumped in the car and went to the game, where Lyons made two goals, winning the game and taking the team to finals.

Lyons has become an example to families fighting cancer since her mother’s death in 2008. Her mother inspires and motivates her to pursue her dream of playing forward on the BYU women’s soccer team. “Here or not here, she’s still helping me and pushing me to do the same things,” Lyons said.

Lyons just finished her freshman year at BYU. Playing soccer at BYU made her dream a reality, and this summer she helped with the soccer camps instead of attending them as she used to before committing and signing on to BYU’s team. Helping with the summer camps has been special because her sister Jessie is currently attending.

Soccer is everything to Lyons. She can’t remember a time she didn’t play. Her family didn’t know anything about soccer starting out. Matt Lyons, her father, said when he and his wife found the Sandy City soccer program it was a perfect fit for Madie. “We immediately knew she was a natural at soccer, and she loved it,” Matt Lyons said. “She was just naturally good at it.”

Madie Lyons joined competitive teams and club teams and played on her school team at Alta High School. She attended BYU summer sports soccer camps every year, which helped her get recruited. Bizzy Phillips, her friend and teammate, described a moment when they made a pact to do everything to play collegiate-level soccer at BYU.

Amanda Lyons, the soccer player’s mother, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer while her daughter worked at this goal, but supported Madie. “She would always come to our practice and bring us Gatorade,” Phillips said. “She’d still come to our games, and she’d wear this soccer ball hat because she didn’t have her hair — it was the cutest.”

The state cup game after Amanda Lyon’s funeral touched Matt Lyons and inspired many. Madie Lyons’ teammates wore pink wristbands and hair ties in Amanda’s memory. “What’s cool about that is a lot of the other teams that were playing at the same time started to wear pink wristbands in support,” Matt Lyons said. Phillips described it as a spiritual game as they played for Amanda Lyons and supported the family.

Madie Lyons told her dad, “Mom wants us to be happy. She would not want us to sit around and be sad and not continue doing the things we love to do.” Matt Lyons appreciated his daughter’s wisdom. He loved how she was able to live the way her mother taught — with passion and joy regardless of hardships.

Madie Lyons attended camps the summer of her mother’s death. “She could almost cope with her mom because of soccer,” Phillips said. “She could put everything into soccer and almost forgot how hard it was.” Soccer gave her something more to look to, something to distract her mind from the trial she was experiencing.

Her coach was asked to keep an eye on her over the summer and noticed her talent. That was the beginning for Madie Lyons’ recruitment. She signed on with the Cougars her senior year and began her dream.

Madie Lyons’ college career ignited with the winning goal against Oregon State on her birthday, Sept. 19, 2014. She earned College Goal of the Week honors and was voted No. 3 college goal of the year from “I don’t know if it can get any better than that,” she said. Matt Lyons called the game “an unbelievable thrill.”

BYU has given Madie Lyons many opportunities she’s grateful for. Friends say she is always happy and said the experience with her mother, though hard, made her stronger and made her who she is today. “Being around her, it makes you happier,” Phillips said.

Madie Lyons plans to play soccer for BYU for the next three years as she completes a degree in health science. Phillips said her friend is one of the fastest and strongest people she knows. “When she gets in this ‘beast mode’ she’s unstoppable,” Phillips said. “No one will know what’s coming.”

After college Madie Lyons hopes to either play semi-professional with the Real Salt Lake women’s team or coach her own team. “I wouldn’t be mad if I just leave my soccer career here and just grow a family; just whatever comes will happen,” she said.

No matter what Madie Lyons decides to do she will always look to her mother.

“What girl doesn’t look up to their mom?” she said. “I just hope to be the woman she is one day.”

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