Before Frankie Maier even knew how to walk, soccer was already coursing through her veins.
To say that Maier’s father, Walter, liked soccer is an understatement. He was a serious competitor back in the day. Now a father of three, he has passed his love for the game down to Maier and her siblings.
“He played on some club teams overseas in Germany and would play over here too with the German-Hungarian teams,” Maier said.
Walter also participated in some New York Cosmos practices, and had the opportunity to play for an Olympic team, but was unable to do so since he already had procured a professional contract.
While her father coached her from kindergarten to sixth grade, it took Maier a little longer to realize her desire to make a serious commitment to soccer.
“I always played up until eighth grade for fun and socializing, and not really until seventh or eighth grade did I realize, ‘Wow I want to get better,’ and I didn’t develop really until eighth grade for fun and socializing, and not really until seventh or eighth grade did I realize, ‘Wow I want to get better,’ and I didn’t develop really until eighth grade,” ” Maier said. “When I got into high school I was like, ‘This is something I want to stick with’ and get on a better club team and get recruited.”
Walter said he realized his daughter had the ability to play at the collegiate level around the time she was in middle school.
“At the middle school level I realized the transition in her speed, stamina and willingness to train,” Walter said. “After attending several DI soccer camps, you could visualize her ability to play with older, more experienced players and make the transition.”
As Maier began to take the sport more seriously, she cemented her position on the field. When she found her niche at center midfield, it sealed her future in the sport.
“I’ve played like every position growing up,” she said. “When I was younger I was mostly defense and even in middle school, defense. Really in high school I became that center midfielder.”
The transition to midfield was influenced by none other than her father.
“We would train individually and work out on our own and he would be like, ‘I‘d really like to see you try and do well in this position,’” Maier said. “On high school teams that’s just where I got placed and club teams finally saw that.”
Walter knew that switching from defense to center midfield would not be easy, but he was also confident in his daughter’s mentality.
“Moving a player from defense-oriented to offense is usually a big transition. I believe she has adjusted well to her surrounding teammates and realizes she has to accommodate them with the ball,” Walter said. “One of Frankie’s true character traits is that she enjoys an assist or an intelligent play as much as a goal.”
Center midfielder has been a perfect fit for Seton Hall’s senior captain, who currently leads the team in points (7), assists (3) and is tied for the lead in goals (2).
Maier credits her playstyle and intensity to her father.
“He’s German and very into soccer. So I think that just shows in my playing style like I don’t like losing,” Maier said. “Every ball I’m gonna say is mine and I really think that just stemmed from him and the way I was brought up.”
Walter seconded the idea that the two bring a similar style to the game.
“Both Frankie and I have the same mindset during the game,” he said. “Play intellectually, use your resources to the best of your ability, keep on working hard, encourage and guide your teammates plus keep on being happy.”
Walter’s passion for soccer was not solely focused on Frankie, as her sister, Alyssa, played in high school before pursuing track and field at Bucknell. Her brother, Andreas, also had an impressive career on the pitch.
“Andreas had a great run in his soccer career from All-Decade, All-Centennial, Hall of Fame at Rutgers to the US Olympic and U-22 US National Team. Additionally, Andreas had a 15-year professional career in Europe and in MLS,” Walter said. “I believe this has also worked to Frankie’s benefit, as she has grown up able to see all of Andreas’ accolades and has used them as motivation.”
Despite a 20-year age gap, Maier and Andreas shared a classic sibling rivalry when it came to soccer.
“We used to play soccer-tennis together all the time and it was a major competition. He was way better than me but I beat him one time and he pretended I didn’t,” Maier said with a smile.
Maier, having grown up surrounded by soccer, has no intent of leaving the game once she graduates. She has been taught by family to love the game, so much so that she is not ready to move on.
That, and she does not want to be a typical part of the workforce just yet.
“I am probably going to attempt to play professionally because I don’t want to work yet,” Maier joked.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.