“He’s known for being funny and his humorous personality,” Malia Berkely said. “I feel like he’s trying to trick me and he just messes with me. It’s hard to tell when he’s serious.”
Before Berkely believed she had been named the premier player in the state, regardless of division, Todd had to show her the paperwork from the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association. Malia also was named Division III Player of the Year and a first-team, all-Ohio by the organization.
“It is kind of bittersweet,” she said. “It is kind of a ‘Wow, that’s overwhelming,’ but, I’m excited for college now. This chapter is over now and I’m ready to move on to the next one.”
Berkely helped the Rams win back-to-back Division III state titles in 2013 and 2014. Badin fell to eventual state champion Summit Country Day in the regional finals this year. The Rams finished 14-4-2.
Berkely, a senior forward and midfielder, finished second in the Greater Catholic League Coed Division in scoring with 15 goals and four assists for 34 points, earning first-team honors for the fourth straight year, all while missing a week to train with the United States U19 national team.
“I forgot all about the awards coming out,” said Berkely, who will sign with top-ranked Florida State in February. “I was more focused on college and getting ready to play in college. I was kind of surprised. It was amazing to get it two years in a row. I was surprised this year, but super surprised last year. I thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. To win it two times is amazing.”
Berkely finished her high school career with 66 goals and 33 assists, leading Badin to a 62-12-10 mark.
She scored a career-high goals (20) in 2013, but her senior year came close to matching it (15 goals) despite a constant shadow on the field.
“Each season it has progressed as people have known me more and more,” she said. “I have gotten used to it. It made it harder, but I was ready for it coming into the season and had prepared for it.”
Berkely, a Liberty Twp. resident, is also the returning Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year.
“If I get that, it would be amazing and I would be grateful,” Berkely said. “More amazed than grateful.”