When 17-year-old Demi Maroudas sets her mind to something, chances are she will accomplish it.
That means that within about 12 years she’ll be fitting you, your children or your grandchildren with braces.
The Grade 12 Eden High School student’s journey to becoming an orthodontist begins next September, when she starts as a freshman at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. And it’s her prowess on a soccer pitch that has earned her a spot as a first-year science student there.
Earlier this month, Maroudas signed a letter of intent to play NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer for the Raiders in the Patriot League, where Colgate goes up against schools such as Army West Point, Navy, Lehigh, Bucknell and Boston University. It’s another goal Maroudas had set for herself when she started playing travel soccer in NOTL.
Maroudas began her soccer adventure at age three, via the Timbits division of the NOTL Soccer Club. She continued to play house league soccer in town until she reached the age where travel competition begins. Coach Matt Hahn had formed a NOTL Rangers girls travel team at the Under-9 age level. Demi was an original member of that team, then went on to play with St. Catharines Jets and Niagara United travel teams in 2013 and 2014. She returned to NOTL the following year and became an integral part of the Rangers, with her father, Andy, on the bench with her as the goalkeepers coach.
Hahn’s Rangers team began to experience increased success in the local travel leagues. As new players came to play for him, the team began to travel further afield, and continued to win games as their skills developed. It all culminated in a 2016 Ontario Cup championship in the Girls U13 division with a 2-0 win over the Windsor Eastside Kickers. It was a highlight in Demi’s early soccer career, and it made her begin to think big.
“I had always taken soccer seriously,” says the future biology major. “I had gone to the field almost every day with my dad. I kind of started thinking more about the future and what I could do with it. It was always a dream of mine to go play Division 1 soccer.”
After reaching the highest level of competition in Ontario with the NOTL Rangers, a number of the girls on her team were making the jump to play for the Western New York Flash, based in Elma, New York, in 2017. Demi and her parents, Andy and Dora, made the decision at that time for her to leave the NOTL Soccer Club.
“I knew that playing in the ECNL (Elite Clubs National League), which is one of the leagues the Flash plays in, would really be beneficial to me,” explains Maroudas. “It’s such a competitive league. I believe it’s one of the best ways to get noticed by college coaches. That’s one of the reasons I decided to go over there.”
As a student at Eden High, she also plays on the Flyers girls team. Though the competition level of high school soccer is a step down from what she experiences in the ECNL, Maroudas uses it as a learning experience.
“For me high school season is my favourite season,” she says. “It’s so fun. It’s kind of our time to explore moves on the field, maybe some things you wouldn’t normally do, and it helps to build your confidence. It’s a really good way to build confidence on the ball.
Besides Colgate, Maroudas had applied and spoken to a number of other schools. Ever methodical, she narrowed down her choices and made a list of what she wanted out of a university. Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania and American University in Washington all made her final list. But Colgate won out for a number of reasons.
“It’s fairly close to home, only four hours away, and it’s very similar to Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she explains. “They have a great soccer program, and a completely new coaching staff all coming from successful programs themselves, and it’s a very academic school as well.”
Though unable to cross the border since March, Maroudas has still arranged to train with some of her Flash teammates, who are also Canadian. Over the summer she was training with her teammates in Welland. She also had some private sessions with a local elite coach and she works out every second day to keep her skills and athleticism sharp.s
As a striker, Maroudas is cognisant of her skills on the field. “I would say my speed, I think I’m really good on the ball, I can take people on. I would say I’m really attacking-oriented, but at the same time I know when to stop and play out of the back and to connect with people.”
And she’s ready to work wherever her Raiders coaches need her. “I’d be happy to play any position,” she says. “I’ve actually been training other positions as well, just in case that is a possibility. I have a lot of speed, so outside defence has always been an option for me.”
For the time being, Maroudas will continue to focus on her studies at Eden, in preparation for graduation in June, 2021. Fittingly for a young student hoping to become an orthodontist, her favourite subjects are biology, chemistry and physics.
And she understands the irony of the path to her future career beginning at a university that shares a name with a top-selling brand of toothpaste (Madison University was renamed Colgate in 1890 to honour the ongoing financial support of the family who started the company). But Maroudas knows that she’s on the right track to realizing her ultimate dream.