Highlander’s Wallner signs letter to attend, play soccer for Vassar College | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Highlander’s Wallner signs letter to attend, play soccer for Vassar College

Bill Rozak | brozak@tahoedailytribune.com

An announcement was made over the Incline High School loudspeaker on Thursday, Feb. 15, before Madison "Madio" Wallner inked her National Letter of Intent.

It was an invitation to watch the celebratory signing.

Dozens of students filed into the foyer right outside the school's front office to watch their student body president.

Wallner sat down at a table adorned with books, flowers, a soccer ball and her cleats and alongside Highlanders head coach Tom Canino.

The coach said a few pleasant words about Wallner and then she signed her letter. Afterward, she received a rousing ovation from the dozens who attended.

"It was great to feel all of the support," Wallner said. "The crowd was full of friends, coaches, teachers and mentors, all of whom played a role in getting me to this point."

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Wallner will play soccer for Vassar College, a division III school about 3,000 miles away in Poughkeepsie, New York. Wallner doesn't get a scholarship in the traditional sense but all students at Vassar receive a financial package. And the college is not an easy institution to get into — they only accept about 20 percent of all applicants.

"I knew I wanted to go far, so I was looking at these small liberal arts schools on the East Coast," said Waller, Incline's student body president. "And they're all pretty similar. My sophomore year I went and visited Vassar and I knew right then it was special. It was beautiful. What set it apart once I got older and became more serious was the fact that they have no core curriculum and the learning is what you make it to be. That was really appealing to me. And the people I met and saw over there, including the current soccer team, they were all so welcoming. It feels like a place I'll fit in."

Wallner's a little nervous about being so far away but she's had her sights set on this for awhile, meaning the excitement overrides and anxiousness. She won't be across the country and away from all her family, she has an uncle who lives about two hours away from campus in Hoboken, New jersey.

In her four years playing for Incline, Wallner was first team all-league and first team all-state twice. She had one second-team award and one honorable mention. Over her career, she scored 41 goals and accumulated 20 assists. She helped her teams to qualify for regional playoffs every year she was in high school, and she was a state runner up to end the 2014 season.

"Madio was our team captain, team leader in just about every way," Canino said. "She's the team heart … we're gonna need a heart transplant next year. I cannot reinforce enough that she has worked for it. She's a great example for the other athletes at this school. If you put in the effort, you get the reward and Madio is a testament to that."

Wallner has played soccer for several years but committed to it full time for the last two years. She participated basketball and track previously, but developing her soccer skills became more important and that helped unlock the door to Vassar. She played for the high school in the fall and played the rest of the year on a club team.

When she's not playing soccer, Wallner stays busy by being involved with "pretty much everything" that happens at the school.

She started a club at Incline called Environmental Avocados, combining her love of both. During her interview she was wearing socks featuring avocados. The club had a "small-scale" event called Bring Your Own Plate to School Day. The club made food and it was free to anyone who brought their own plate.

"I'm just trying to be mindful about lunchtime waste that accumulates," Wallner said.

Which leads right into what she plans to major in — environmental policy. All she wants to do is "save the world."

"I don't necessarily want to be on the ground as a traditional scientist, but I want to take my knowledge of the environment and apply it to policy," Wallner said. "I want to make sure we reverse the damage we're doing in the future."

Wallner also plays a fundamental role in the success of We the People, a class, and competition, that studies the Constitution and is formatted like a congressional hearing where the students debate and cross examine each other.

She was on a team that earned second place in an national event (finishing just one point behind first place) and qualified for the national WTP finals that will take place in April in Washington, D.C.

"That's really evoked a passion of mine," Wallner said. "It's kinda what steered me to environmental policy."

"Madio has been involved in leadership all four years at Incline," said Incline vice principal Kari Michael in a press release. "She has held student leadership offices the past three years and has certainly been a contributing member to the study body in many ways throughout her time at Incline."