The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 29, 2013

Tribune-Democrat Girls' Athlete of the Year | Grimm provided leadership, winning attitude for Ligonier

Shawn Curtis

JOHNSTOWN — Maddy Grimm’s skills and accomplishments during her time at Ligonier Valley have crafted numerous stories.

Her coaches also have stories to tell.

Not only of Grimm’s athleticism, but of her character and dedication to improving herself and her teammates.

Grimm, who was a part of a banner year in Ligonier Valley athletics, played for two PIAA tournament qualifiers and two other District 6 playoff squads during the 2012-13 school year. The senior year experienced by Grimm would be enough to stuff the portfolios of most student-athletes.

Not that it was ever about Grimm, who is furthering her athletic career at Kent State as a member of the Golden Flashes’ softball team.

“It was always about the team and ‘what can we do?’ It was never ‘Boy, I’m really good.’ There was never a hint of that,” Ligonier Valley softball coach Mark Zimmerman said. “As a person and an athlete, you knew what you had; but as a young lady, you knew you had a special person.”

There were outstanding individual accomplishments too during the year.

Grimm, who was selected as The Tribune-Democrat’s Girls’ Athlete of the Year, holds the soccer program’s all-time mark for goals scored at 112 and topped the 100-goal barrier during her senior season under coach Eric Vogelsang. She capped the season with an appearance in the Santa Fund Soccer Classic in November.

“I love each of my teams, but the soccer team was the most family-like,” Grimm said. “We had each others’ backs and I think that’s part of the reason why we were successful. You can have good athletes, but unity doesn’t come to every team. I’m very grateful for that.”

For football coach Roger Beitel, she scored 47 points as the Rams’ kicker, playing a part in a campaign that saw Ligonier Valley win its first playoff game since 1985 and advance to the District 6 Class AA semifinals.

“It was really neat being a part of that,” Grimm said.

“Even in our junior year when we won the conference, that’s always a big deal in our town. The playoff win … I mean Laurel Valley had won playoff games. Ligonier hadn’t won in (27 years) and it was definitely neat to be a part of history in that sense.”

She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career in basketball while helping the Rams to the District 6-AAA championship game and a first-round berth in the PIAA tournament. She was also named MVP of the AmeriServ Financial Senior Hoops Showcase in March.

“She never felt that she was too good to make her game better,” girls’ basketball coach Paul Dominic said. “She never took a minute off.”

Grimm capped her tremendous senior year by playing a large part in Ligonier Valley’s run to the District 6-AA championship game and a stop in the PIAA AA quarterfinals in softball.

It was quite the busy year.

“Each team had great leaders on it,” Grimm said. “And a lot of the underclassmen on those teams were willing to work hard to reach the accomplishments we achieved.”

Each coach also pinpointed a moment when they realized that Grimm was a special student-athlete.

“It started on the day I recruited her,” Beitel said. “She was on the track as part of the conditioning for the soccer team. She had just finished several miles of conditioning and I called her over. She proceeded to hit 34 of 35 extra points, having never done it before in her entire life, in front of 50 young boys, who are standing in awe of her accomplishment. It was at that point that I was sold on her as our kicker.”

While Grimm managed to turn Beitel’s head entering her junior year, other coaches saw her potential as a freshman.

“We were playing Penns Valley in a playoff game and they were the higher seed,” Vogelsang said.

“Midway through the second half – it was still a scoreless tie – and she had a free kick just inside of midfield and just blasted it past everyone, including the keeper and everyone on the field just stopped and looked at each like ‘What just happened?’ She looked like that was exactly what she meant to do.”

And she arrived at just the right time for a budding softball team.

“When Maddy was between eighth grade and her freshman year of high school, we knew at that time that we were really turning the corner as a softball team,” Zimmerman said. “We knew that we had a special thing. There were two girls left out there, Maddy Grimm and Jackie Berry. I personally called both of those girls.”

Her desire to help Ligonier Valley be the best it could wasn’t lost on Dominic either.

“With Maddy’s influence, I don’t think the girls are going to skip a beat,” Dominic said. “What Maddy portrayed to the underclassmen is that they’re going to continue the tradition – the heritage that she left the school.”

Zimmerman shared that generations-long supporters of athletics at Ligonier Valley also recognized her gifts.

“She’s an exceptional athlete,” Zimmerman said. “There’s a bunch of us who talk, we’ve been in Ligonier all our lives and even some coaches who are older than me and she’s definitely in the question that she might be the best athlete to come out of Ligonier Valley High School. She’s certainly in the top three.”

Beitel, who has seen a bevy of talent run through the tunnel at Ligonier Valley, pointed out that Grimm ranks with the greats of Mounties or Rams past.

“She didn’t just play four sports,” Beitel said. “She was arguably the best player at her position in every sport she played … Not only did she play them, but she was the best athlete in most cases.”