Maya Nanos first walked out onto the soccer pitch with the “Shooting Stars” team when she was in kindergarten. Fast forward a few years and that shooting star is now a star and captain for the Pioneer varsity soccer team.
“I was also involved in dance, track, and volleyball, but soccer has been the sport I’ve stuck with for the longest time,” she says of those early days kicking a ball around. “I love the feeling of being on the field in soccer and, most of all, that it’s a contact sport. I’ve also had the best team experiences on my soccer teams, which has made me truly love this sport.”
One of those best “team experiences” has been this past season with her Pioneer team. The Pioneers head into a challenging Districts with a home game against a strong Dexter club on Thursday. The Dreadnaughts have defeated the Pioneers twice this season in close matches.
Nanos said this year’s team came into the season with “amazing potential” with plenty of talented players and a strong work ethic.
“Our team has a bond that’s important for our season’s success,” she said earlier in the year. “One main goal of our team this year is to “win deep,” which means to not only win on the scoreboard, but to feel accomplished as a team and as individuals throughout the game.
“Winning deep means every player puts in their best effort and feels successful during the game.”
And what have been the keys to the team’s success this year?
“The success of our team is determined by the effort and value that each of our girls put in,” she says. “It’s all up to us. Without constant communication, respect, and love our team will not be successful.”
Nanos, who usually plays up front – mostly on the wing – says being a captain has been a rewarding experience. “My role as a captain is to focus on the team environment and bring the team together,” she says. “Personally, I’m empathetic and it’s important to me to make every opinion heard and valued. This is a key component to making everyone on the team feel respected.”
Nanos was captain as a freshman on the JV team but didn’t make the varsity team as a sophomore. “I was very disappointed in this decision and I wound up asking my coaches for additional feedback about their decision,” she says. “Although we never wound up having a season my sophomore year due to COVID, the initiative I took to further understand my coaches’ viewpoints is what proved to them I have the leadership skills.”
“I feel like this difficult experience, together with being a JV captain my freshman year, have helped lay the foundation for me to become a varsity captain my senior year.”
Nanos took a break from club soccer this past season but was playing for Michigan Tigers 03’ Gold team. “I absolutely loved Coach Pedro Rita and I gratefully still continue to train with him,” she says.
Maya, 18, is the daughter of John and Elise Nanos. When she’s not playing soccer, she is busy with American Red Cross Club and Leadership Club at Pioneer. She also has taken piano lessons since second grade and enjoys working out and spending time with her big family.
Nanos plans on attending The University of Colorado-Boulder next year and then on to pharmacy school.
She hopes to at least play intramural soccer in college.
Senior picture by Ebba Gurney (www.ebbagurneyphotography.com)