Frey and Hebert Stand Tall

By Beacon Staff

Glacier High School girls soccer coach Paul Holmgren has only one suggestion for his all-state junior forward Maddey Frey, who is widely regarded as the best at her position in the state. But he’s not sure Frey can do it.

“Grow three inches,” Holmgren said of the 5-foot-3 Frey. “That’s about it.”

Conceding the improbability of such a request, Holmgren said “her heart’s huge, so that makes up for a lot of it there.” Across town at Flathead High, another junior, Kassi Hebert, is rising in the ranks of Class AA’s soccer stars and proving that, while forwards are often expected to be tall, it certainly isn’t a requirement to be an elite goal scorer.

Maddey Frey is a junior on Glacier High School’s varsity soccer team.

Hebert, a 5-foot-2 forward, is in her first season at Flathead after finishing second in Class A in scoring as a sophomore at Columbia Falls last year. Hebert scored 20 goals in 13 games. But this year, she has taken on more of a role of a distributor, with senior standout Heidi Windauer doing much of the scoring. Hebert leads Flathead in assists.

In a Sept. 18 match-up between Flathead and Glacier, Frey and Hebert provided a glimpse of what is likely to be a high-scoring, exciting showdown each time the two meet for the remainder of this season and into their senior years. During that game, Windauer immediately scored to put Flathead up 1-0. The two teams then traded goals until they headed into the final minutes in a 3-3 tie. At that point, Hebert had two assists and Frey had three goals, all in the first half. Then in the 75th minute, Hebert scored the game-winning goal.

“That game was intense,” Hebert said.

Hebert said she began kicking a soccer ball around when she was 3 years old and then entered a boys’ competitive league when she was 5. For the next seven years she played in boys’ leagues, always as the only girl on the team. It seemed natural, following in the footsteps of her older brother Casey, who was a soccer player and a role model for Hebert. When she turned 13, she joined her first girls’ league.

Playing against the boys instilled in Hebert a toughness that she still incorporates in her game today. To her, soccer is a physical and “intense game,” though it is also her sanctuary to get away from hectic daily life.

“(Soccer’s) never been something I’ve had to choose to do or not – it was always there,” Hebert said. “If you have a bad day, soccer’s there to cheer you up. It’s a passion.”

Frey started later, not until she was 10, in fact. She recalls her dad saying, “You’d be good at soccer. I was like, ‘All right.’” She has come a long way in six years. Much of her progress can be attributed to innate ability, along with hard work. Holmgren said she has intangibles that can’t be taught: natural strength, improvisational skills and speed.

To watch Frey, who leads Class AA in goals, is to observe an athlete playing on another level than her opponents. She’s in tune with the rhythm of the game. Asked what she loves about soccer, she speaks of motion and fluidity, not just fun and goal scoring. Frey plays basketball and runs track too, but she said soccer is special.

Kassi Hebert is a junior of Flathead High School’s varsity soccer team.

“It’s just the movement of the game, there’s no set plays,” Frey said. “When I play soccer I feel so much more athletic – you’re always moving.”

Hebert steps into a long tradition of soccer excellence at Flathead, both on the boys and girls side. Windauer, the team’s leading scorer, is clearly part of that tradition, as was Meghan O’Connell, who earned the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year last season. O’Connell now plays at Carroll College.

Greg Trenerry, who coached Hebert at Columbia Falls, said the young goal scorer uses her speed and an excellent left foot to anchor her scoring attack. Not to mention, he said she’s physical and unrelentingly tenacious. If she gets the ball anywhere near the net, chances are she’ll score.

“That’s really important,” Trenerry said. “Some forwards don’t finish, but she does.”

Holmgren, who has been coaching soccer for more than a decade, strains to think of a player with as complete of a package as Frey’s. “I can think of two, three girls that you can compare her to,” he said. Complementing Frey’s physical gifts, Holmgren said, is her understanding of the game’s subtleties.

“She’s just a joy to coach,” Holmgren said. “She’s fun, she always has a smile on her face. She treats everyone on the team with respect and kids like to be around her.

“Sometimes kids who have those kinds of gifts aren’t like that – Maddey is.”