When Shannon Maddock first stepped on a soccer field nine years ago, she was so unhappy she cried.
Now, it's Torrance High's opponents who are unhappy.
Maddock, 16, a junior, is the leading scorer for Torrance (16-1-2), the top-rated girls soccer team in the CIF 4-A Division. She has scored 32 goals and 17 assists.
That places the blonde, blue-eyed Torrance native second on the all-time CIF girls soccer scoring list with 137 goals.
In her freshman year, Maddock scored 46 goals and had 24 assists to lead the Tartars to a 23-1-1 record and a CIF championship--the only Torrance team to accomplish that.
59 Goals Last Season
Maddock had 59 goals last season, just two shy of the record set by Palos Verdes' Karen Jennings, and 23 assists as the Tartars finished 23-1, losing in overtime to El Toro, 2-1, in the CIF semifinals. Maddock was named the girls 4-A player of the year.
But one would never have expected such performances after her ominous beginning.
"I hated it at first," Maddock said. "I cried when I first went to play."
Her mother, Fran, felt it was important for her 7-year-old daughter to get involved in athletics, and even though soccer was not her first choice, she insisted that her daughter stick with it.
"I wanted Shannon to play baseball or softball," Fran Maddock said. "Soccer wasn't one of my favorite sports.
"But I was always good at sports and Bob (her husband) was a good speed skater, and I feel sports is good for you. But at first, Shannon was kind of lame. She just looked so pathetic out there."
Hard Work and Success
So mother and father started working with her--and working, and working.
"We had this long hallway and I'd just go one-on-one with my dad," Shannon said. "I'd just go right for him and knock him down. And finally, I starting getting better and started to like it."
She played fullback that year but assumed her current position as center forward in her second season. In her third season, while playing for a team her mother coached, she met George (Scotty) Kay, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who has coached youth soccer in Torrance since 1965.
"We played his team and he liked the way I played and he asked my mom if he could help me," Maddock said. "He taught me how to dribble the ball, trap the ball, and showed me the moves I use now.
"He's taught me all my soccer skills."
Maddock said she is not exceptionally fast but uses dribbling and ball handling to weave past defenders.
'Classic Finesse Player'
"She's a classic finesse player," said Kay of Maddock, who he said is like a granddaughter to him. "She's just able to slide by a player."
During a recent practice, she demonstrated those skills against her mentor, who helps Torrance Coach Dale Walker teach the basics.
Dribbling left-footed past a teammate, she bobbed her head and in one smooth, quick motion fired the ball past Kay, playing fullback, into the left corner of the net.
Kay, who played soccer professionally in Scotland before coming to the United States in 1953, said he immediately saw the potential for a "great soccer player" in that 9-year-old girl.
"When you look at some kids, you see a certain natural ability in them," Kay, 64, said. "Shannon had tremendous natural ability.
"If she wasn't a girl, she could play on any boys team. She's got that much ability. She gives it everything she's got.
"She's always excelled."
Can't Stand the Bench
Even at the tender age of 9, Maddock could not tolerate being anything but the best or, in the Maddock vernacular, being "lame."
As a freshman at Torrance, she tried her hand at volleyball. She said she went to all the practices but never got off the bench during games.
"If I'm not playing and I'm good enough to play, I'm not going to sit there," she said. "I don't have a bad attitude, but if I'm not the best, I don't want to do it.
Just Like Mom
"I have to be right up there at the top. It's important to me."
So one day she walked into the gymnasium and threw her uniform at her coach.
That was the last time she diverted her energies from soccer.
"She gets that from me," her mother said. "I'm kind of a bad loser myself.
"Sometimes even if you play your best, you'll still lose and there's nothing you can do. But winning's the best. It does matter."
When it comes to improving her soccer game, Maddock is more than dedicated. Her behavior may border on fanaticism.
"Enthusiasm is the big thing with her," Kay said. "In the years I've known her, she hasn't missed a practice.
"I think she'd have to be dying to miss one. And she's just one of the ones that wants to be physically fit."
Maddock's typical day begins at 5:30 a.m. By 6:45, she's at school participating in a 30-minute weightlifting program. Then it's home for a quick change of clothes and back to school by 8 for classes.
Soccer practice kicks off at 2:30 p.m. and usually lasts until 4:30. Then she runs home for dinner and homework before going to a local athletic club for an hour of aerobics, 35 minutes on a stationary bicycle and 300 to 400 sit-ups.