ELMHURST – Timothy Christian star Maddie Drye ran up and down the soccer field Saturday, luxuriating in the warmth of a perfect spring day.
But the weather wasn’t the only reason for the junior forward’s happiness. Nor was the fact that Drye had an assist in the host Trojans’ 2-0 Metro Suburban Conference win over St. Francis in Elmhurst.
Playing alongside Drye at times was her freshman sister Sami. Just steps away, her seventh grade brother Dylan paced the sidelines as one of the ball boys.
Watching all the action from the nearby bleachers were Drye’s parents, Nate and Qiana, who have been fixtures at her soccer games for the past three seasons.
But this school year has been different from all the rest. Maddie and Sami are three-sport athletes, also playing together on the tennis and basketball teams.
For the first time, Nate Drye, a teacher at Aurora Central Catholic, was able to watch all of their basketball games. He stepped down last year after 17 seasons as Aurora Central’s boys basketball coach.
“We’re a very close family,” Maddie said. “It’s been awesome having him there.
“He’s always able to help me with things after the game. It wasn’t an easy decision for him because he loves coaching.”
Indeed, Nate misses coaching, but he has no regrets.
“It was really tough giving it up, but it was also easy,” Nate said. “I work with great people at Central and they’re awesome, so that part was hard.
“But it was a pretty easy decision to get to see everything my kids are doing. It goes by fast and I didn’t want to miss any of it.”
Nate said he had an “aha” moment two years ago when Maddie was a freshman on the varsity basketball team.
“The girls basketball team was playing in a regional final and [Aurora Central] had a game which was just a conference game,” Nate said. “So I couldn’t go to a girls regional championship game.”
Nate told Aurora Central athletic director Sean Bieterman that he was thinking about resigning. But two days later, schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t want to dump someone in a bad situation where they had to try and be a first-year coach trying to navigate that,” Nate said. “We didn’t even know we’d have a season, so I did it one more year.”
Nate hasn’t completely given up coaching. He got to coach Dylan’s basketball team this winter while attending all of Maddie and Sami’s basketball games.
“My dad has always worked with me so much over the summers on all my sports,” Maddie said. “He still came to a lot of games when he was coaching, but having him there so much more really meant a lot to us.
“I think it’s awesome that he’s able to put more time into working with us and teaching us.”
While basketball is Nate’s favorite sport and all of his kids excel at it, the Dryes are well-rounded athletes. Maddie and Sami play tennis, basketball and soccer, while Dylan plays basketball and soccer.
Maddie is the most accomplished thus far. In tennis, she and her soccer teammate, Miliana Martens, qualified for state in doubles and helped the Trojans finish third in Class 1A, the first trophy in program history.
Maddie was an all-conference guard in basketball this winter, but her best sport is soccer.
“Soccer is definitely what I think I’m best at and definitely my favorite sport,” Maddie said. “I’ve loved it for such a long time.”
As a sophomore, Maddie helped the Trojans to a 17-3 record and a runner-up finish at the Class 1A state finals. She scored 20 goals, one fewer than team leader Emma Carter, and had six assists.
With the graduation of Carter, who now plays at Purdue Northwest, Maddie has become the Trojans’ best player and de facto leader. She has tallied 11 goals and six assists in her first 11 games.
“She finished with 20 goals last year and she probably could have had 10 more,” Timothy Christian coach Jon Hamelinck said. “She’s been a little more efficient this year and just making the other people around her better.
“Emma is a pretty big loss, but the girls have stepped up and Maddie is one of them. She’s taking more of a leadership role.”
Maddie’s leadership has been key for the Trojans (7-4, 4-1), who won their first four games, then lost four straight and now are on a three-game winning streak. Ella Vandermolen and Angie Tornabene scored and goalie Corinne Myket made nine saves in the win over St. Francis, which is the third Class 2A team Timothy Christian has beaten this season.
“I’m definitely being more of a leader, leading by example, making sure the team is getting ready and has a focused mentality before games,” Maddie said. “My teammates are really great and I think with all my sports this year I’ve learned that leading by example is one of the best things you can do.
“If people aren’t working hard in practice, it just takes one person to up the intensity and everybody rises to your level.”
This also is Maddie’s first season playing with Sami.
“I love playing with her,” Maddie said. “It’s one of my favorite things.
“We know each other so well, so we kind of know what runs we’re going to make and know what the other person is thinking. I think that’s something really unique and I don’t think a lot of people get to experience that, so I feel very blessed.”
So, too, does Nate, who hasn’t ruled out returning to coaching some day but is in no hurry to do so.
“It’s still a lot of fun for me, but just for this point it time it didn’t work with what was going on with our kids’ schedules,” he said. “I love watching my kids play.”