The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School

CHAT News

The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School

CHAT News

The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School

CHAT News

Photos By Lisset

Charter’s star duo: Madison Casanova and Catalina Castro

Amongst all of Charter’s special qualities, what stands out are its sports teams. Whether it is the boys’ and girls’ football or basketball teams, the sports at Charter are well known and popular within the student body. But what distinguishes the sports from anything else is not their teamwork, but rather another factor: the players. For Charter’s girl soccer team, two of their sophomore players, Catalina Castro and Madison Casanova, have left a lasting impact not only on the team, but also on PPCHS.

However, for one player, her journey in soccer didn’t start at Charter. Madison Casanova began her career in soccer through an innocent point of view at the time; whether that be for fun or potentially taking it to the next level. “I started playing when I was 3 in the rec league, and I became a goalie when I was 6 years old. Then, I started to play travel soccer when I was 8,” comments the goalie as she reflects on what brought her to this sport. As Casanova jokes and laughs that she became goalie only because she wasn’t ‘good at any other position,’ it is clear that she has always played with a humble attitude, even from her early days. Whether that may be true or not, Madison, since starting her position as a goalie at 8 years old, has made her mark in front of the net. 

Starting her academic years at Franklin Academy, Madison didn’t see a future playing with the Lady Jags, even at a young age. But, the tables turned during her 7th grade year as she prepared to become an 8th grader. “It was only at first a joke that I would play varsity as an 8th grader, but then it became a reality when I got into Academic Village Middle School to play.” With having family friends on the varsity team, it was clear that this switch would boost her soccer career in ways unimaginable at the time; this was the opportunity that shined the brightest light on her talent. 

Madison began to get recognized by coaches within Charter and also the student body, surrounded by questions beginning as “Who’s that goalie? Isn’t she an 8th grader?” Before even becoming a student at Academic Village High School, she was already a known name just for her talent. But, to Casanova, it wasn’t just the game that had her hooked to her team and the sport; but rather the people she met through it. After her transfer to AV, she was introduced to Catalina Castro. However, this isn’t the only place they had their paths crossed. “I did become friends with Cata [Catalina] because she was one of the first people I met, but I feel like soccer made our bond stronger because we had that in common.” As a smile makes its way onto Casanova’s face, it is made aware to all around her listening in on her story that Cata means a whole lot to her than just a teammate. “But, our friendship isn’t only about soccer, it’s more than that. We’re best friends!” 

 But, Madison’s talent isn’t only displayed in Florida, but internationally as well. Mid November of 2023, Casanova traveled to Europe to broaden her perspective with teams internationally and how they play as a whole. Starting in Paris, Madison began her training with scrimmages and skill camps with well-known clubs like PSG and Paris FC. Not only that, but Casanova was able to head on over to the national team’s training center which promoted the understanding and appreciation of the culture of soccer in France. However, Barcelona was where the main tournament occurred for her and her team. Playing against Real Madrid and teams from Sweden and Denmark, the first thought that came to mind is how difficult that may be. Despite all odds, Madison and her team made it all the way to the semi-finals. 

When looking back on the trip and the international tournament, Madison is able to reflect on her time there and what she will take back to her home state when even competing on a day-to-day basis. “Playing soccer there, it showed me a different style of playing the game from the other countries. In terms of their strategies and  how they think tactically and strategically, it was all very eye-opening.” At only 16 years old, the talent is already beaming from Casanova whenever she steps onto the field. With wins and losses, it is those experiences that make her the diligent player she is today. 

For Catalina Castro, soccer was not the intended sport that was supposed to make its way into her life. “I used to dance, but my dad played soccer his whole life even at college. My older brother played soccer too, so I spent my whole childhood at a soccer field at his games.” Catalina continues to say that because of being immersed in the soccer world while growing up, she wanted to try out the one sport her family loved. At just 7 years old, Catalina started her first round of soccer and for 8 years and counting, has loved it ever since.

One of the first core memories for Catalina while playing soccer was “playing travel soccer at West Pines and winning the Disney tournament which was what every little kid dreamed of. That year, my team won. We were so happy, and I just remember us taking a picture with Mickey Mouse, our trophies and medals.” This memory, in addition to her dad and brother being her biggest inspirations in pursuing this sport even though, according to Catalina, “They critique me a lot, but I know it’s because they only want me to get better.” 

Finishing up her 8th-grade year, Catalina got an unexpected request from one of her friends, Madison Casanova, to try out for the Varsity Lady Jaguars soccer team. Although Casanova and Castro marked their territory on the soccer team as 8th graders, it was not something Castro had foreseen for herself. “I had low expectations [of joining the Varsity team] because I was an 8th grader trying to join a high school team.” Despite her past doubts, Castro currently plays right back and center middle for the Varsity Lady Jaguars soccer team and also for the FC Prime ECNL 2008 girl’s team.

While Catalina enjoys her time playing for the Lady Jaguars, in the future she hopes to “be able to commit [to a soccer team] and play in college, hopefully, Division 1. I would also love to play with the Colombian national team.” 

As Madison Casanova and Catalina Castro still have 2 years left in their high school career, it is unclear what the future holds for them in terms of soccer and academics. But, it is clear that with their talent on the field, Castro and Casanova have the potential to lead the future Lady Jags to success. With the pair’s loving and strong friendship that shows on and off the field, this duo has not only the ability to take their dreams on farther than both of them can imagine, but also to make names for themselves beyond Charter. But, for now, PPCHS remains waiting to see the next big thing these girls have under their belts for the soccer seasons to come.

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About the Contributors
Julianna Perez
Julianna Perez, Clubs Editor
Hi! My name is Julianna Perez and I'm currently the Clubs Editor for the CHAT Newspaper. I'm a sophomore and this is my second year in the newspaper. I love to write and pursuing journalism is my dream, so I can't wait to continue writing again this year! Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have feedback or questions :)
Eri Fatimilehin
Eri Fatimilehin, Alumni Editor
Hey, I’m Eri and I am in 10th grade! This is my first year in the CHAT as a Alumni Editor and I hope to write stories everyone will enjoy! I love to read, crochet, and travel. If you want to contact me, feel free to email me at [email protected].
Abby Santos
Abby Santos, Photo Staff
Hi! My name is Abby Santos and I am a senior. This is my first year on the CHAT, and I will be working as a photographer specializing in Sports and Student Life. I’ve been working with photography and digital media for years. I’m also part of the Flag Football team! If you’d like to contact me, you can reach me at [email protected]

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