By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
Every now and then, a legendary myth comes along that chills you to your bones.
But what if the legend is no myth?
This legend is one of courage and pride. It’s about defending your teammates. And about showing that you won’t back down no matter what.
Fairmont Senior’s senior defender Maddie Stevenski has an unusual nickname for a girls’ soccer player: Truck.
A few years ago, Stevenski, Ivey Nucilli and Olivia Wilson explained, Stevenski was given the nickname because of a collision that happened during a soccer game.
“Some girl had maybe hit one of our girls or something and I just got enraged,” Stevenski explained. “We both just went for a ball and I just kept going. I really didn’t mean to and I felt bad, but I just kept going and she just dropped.”
The term “truck” is often referred to as a bone-crushing hit in football. When a ball carrier bowls over a defender, it’s called a truck.
“It’s like a monster truck with no brakes. You just keep going no matter what’s coming,” Wilson said.
The term is so well known that the popular video game Madden NFL Football has a button simply called the “truck stick.”
And that’s where the nickname originated.
“Coach (J.L.) Abbott was our assistant and I remember him saying, ‘I’ve coached football all of my life and that was the hardest hit I’ve ever seen.’”
Abbott, who is the head coach of the Fairmont Senior football team, remembers the hit well.
“Without pads on, it was the biggest hit I’ve seen,” Abbott said. “She plays defense like a linebacker. She’s going to go after every loose ball like it’s hers, and it is. She takes real pride in playing on that defense. They have a couple of girls that could probably play for us. They’re physical and they get after the ball.”
The nickname has since become a trademark and can be heard from across the field as her teammates yell it quite frequently.
“We either scream Maddie, Stevie, Stavie or Truck. She has a toy truck. We have pictures of trucks with her face on it. It’s definitely a trademark,” Nucilli said.
While the intent of the hits is never malicious, Stevenski and the Fairmont Senior girls’ soccer team play aggressive and the trucks let the other team know they won’t back down.
“Stevenski just plays with a lot of heart,” coach Ryann Moore said of the senior defender. “She’s a solid player back there, and that’s how the truck came about. If there’s a ball, she’s going to go after it full speed and she’s not going to let up. She doesn’t care who’s coming at her, and usually she wins that battle.”
Being a senior, Stevenski will go on to graduate this year, leaving the legend of the truck in jeopardy of dying off.
But as in most societies, the legend will be passed down from generation to generation, the girls said.
“Whoever it is has to prove themselves,” Wilson said of the next beneficiary of the nickname.
The girls said there are a select few candidates who could step up to carry the legend on in the coming years, and as the season winds down, someone could claim the nickname.
The girls agreed, though, that the next candidate will have some “big wheels to fill.”
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.