In one year’s time, just about everything about Madison Mueller changed.
A year ago, accepting the FCN’s Player of the Year award as a junior, the former South Forsyth lacrosse star was enthusiastically discussing college visits, her involvement with LB3 Lacrosse and her upcoming move to play her senior season at West Forsyth with her best friend, Sarah Grady.
Now Mueller is thinking less about her future and, instead, is absorbing the remnants of a stellar lacrosse career. She has scars from surgery on one shoulder—more to come on the other. Her endearing strut is actually a result of a bad knee—one that has been dislocated multiple times. Despite her sharp mind and propensity for conversation, she’ll admit four concussions are four too many.
Instead of going to Long Island University in Brooklyn on a lacrosse scholarship, Mueller will put down the stick and focus on her passion for film production at the University of Florida.
It’s a paradigm shift—one that, a year ago, would be unfathomable—but Mueller has no regrets about her decision to retire from the sport she has dominated in.
“This past season was just so memorable,” Mueller said. “It was one of my favorite teams I’ve played for. We made the state playoffs, which was my first time, and we had so much fun doing it. I got along with everyone really well, my best friend was on the team, and coach (John) Thompson made sure that we enjoyed ourselves. I couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
Mueller scored 96 goals for the Lady War Eagles last season. This year, sharing the front line with Grady, she managed to eclipse last year’s total with 101 goals. She added 27 assists, 47 ground balls, 22 caused turnovers and 34 draw controls. She’d garner double-teams, triple-teams and sometimes four players. There’s no questioning why she was voted a team captain even though it was her first year with her new team.
Mueller finished with 261 career goals, was recruited by multiple Division I schools and was voted a captain of the LB3 National Team, while also garnering All-American status by Under Armour.
Still, sit her down, ask her what she wants to talk about, and she’ll go on a tangent about her favorite band, Fallout Boy. Even though Mueller is hanging up her jersey, she grins from ear to ear when speaking about her whirlwind commitment to the sport.
FCN: You were so dominant in lacrosse for so long, on so many different levels. What made you decide to put the game away moving forward?
Mueller: You know, I just played so long that I got burnt out. I met so many amazing people while playing but at this point I want to devote time to other things I’m interested and maybe not get hurt so much in the process.
FCN: You spent one season at West Forsyth, won 13 games and made the postseason. How would you describe your final year?
Mueller: Just playing with friends. Playing in a fun environment. For so long I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself and went through a lot of stress because when you care about a sport you’re willing to do whatever it takes, and that probably led to my injuries, honestly. Also, you blame yourself for a lot. I think we had success but we were loose, coach made sure we enjoyed playing and I was more relaxed all year.
FCN: Did you have a particular favorite moment from the season?
Mueller: I think, even though we made the playoffs, the game against South stands out. It was a blast to go back and play on my old field and to see all of my friends from both schools. It was emotional but also really important to me.
FCN: How involved with lacrosse will you be moving forward?
Mueller: I’ve been coaching over the summer. The West Lady Laxers youth team. When they get to high school it’s going to be insane. They’re so good. I started coaching in the fall as a volunteer, along with Sarah Grady, and then we were offered summer positions. The girls are super into it and I look forward to keeping myself involved that way in the future.
FCN: So if you’re not going to be an elite lacrosse player, who will you be?
Mueller: I just want to succeed in whatever I do, hopefully as a producer. I’ll figure it out along the way. I’ll get down that path eventually.