Madie Thistlewaite

School: New Hope - Solebury

Field Hockey, Lacrosse



Favorite athlete:  Caitlin Clark

Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite memory of competing in sports: Any overtime win. 

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports:  When I scored off of my forehead during a lacrosse game. 

Music on playlist: Taylor Swift and Throwbacks

Future plans: Attending Bucknell University and playing lacrosse.

Words to live by: “Tomorrow is never guaranteed so make the best of what you can today.”

One goal before turning 30: Have a career in business and travel.     

One thing people don’t know about me: I absolutely hate coffee. I can’t stand the taste or even the smell of it.

By Craig Ostroff

It’s no understatement to say that sports are a family affair for Madie Thistlewaite.

The New Hope-Solebury senior credits her older sisters Carolyn and Kat for both her love of lacrosse and field hockey, and for helping to make her the player she is.

“Playing the same sports as my sisters definitely helped me,” said Thistlewaite, the third of four sisters. “When I was younger, I played basketball, soccer, cheerleading - they had gravitated toward field hockey and lacrosse, and I thought that sounded like fun.

“Honestly, when I first started in second grade, I wanted nothing to do with lacrosse. I hated it. The next year I just fell in love with it. But having them definitely helped me stick with those two sports. Looking back, I think I would have stuck with them anyway. But it was definitely helpful that my sisters were playing the same sports.”

Though she was never able to play high school sports with her eldest sister Carolyn, who graduated the spring before Madie started high school, she did get a couple years on the field with Kat, who is now a sophomore field hockey player at Franklin and Marshall College. But the siblings had plenty of time on the field outside of school while growing up.

“When we were younger, when we would go out and practice together, I’d tell them, ‘Don’t go easy on me,’ because I wanted to get to their level,” Thistlewaite said. “They weren’t afraid to push me or knock me to the ground, but it helped. They’re older than me, they’ve got more experience and play against players who are more experienced than the girls I’m playing with and playing against. Practicing with them was making me better. And it helped build a closer relationship between us.”

Now a senior, Thistlewaite has relished the chance to pass down what she’s learned from her older sisters. Emersyn – the youngest of the Thistlewaite sisters – was a freshman on the L ions’ field hockey and lacrosse teams this year.

“Being able to play with Emersyn is something I am so blessed to be able to do,” Madie said. “Playing with Kat, who’s two years older, she taught me so many lessons even outside of sports. Being able to play with her in my first years of high school, she taught me so many lessons.

“This was my first and last year playing with my little sister, so it’s cool to now be able to teach. She actually played next to me in field hockey this year. And she’s also a middie in lacrosse, so she was my little buddy. We were able to practice together, and outside of school practices, it was always, ‘Let’s go work on this skill, let’s try this move.’”

But a family is more than just those related by blood. In sports, your family is made up of those who play every game, work through every practice, and share the good times and bad times. For Thistlewaite, her teammates are family, and her efforts as a senior leader on both the lacrosse and field hockey teams were critical this season, especially in lacrosse, where the Lions faced a fairly unique situation coming into the season.

While their new head coach, Mike Connors, brings with him a legendary coaching career at both the high school and collegiate level, he had never coached a girls’ team, nor had he coached lacrosse.

It added a good bit of pressure to what would be expected of the Lions’ senior leaders. But it was a responsibility that Thistlewaite embraced as a captain, and a challenge she gladly stepped up to meet.

“I told Madie before season, ‘You’ve forgotten more about lacrosse than I know,’” Connors said. “She allowed me to coach the girls while she led the team. She made my job easier. After the Shanahan game (a season-ending loss in the first round of the District One Class 2A tournament), I thanked her. I told her, ‘You allowed me to coach this year. You helped make my job easier.’

“Madie never took a play off or a practice off this year. Not only did she never miss practice, she was always the last player to leave the field. She made sure all her teammates were taken care of.”

“It was definitely challenging at first,” Thistlewaite said. “We’re not only helping out the coaches but also helping our teammates with drills and practices, and at the same time, making sure I was getting something out of the practices as well. But as time went on and the coaches learned how certain skills and strategies worked, it got easier.

“He told us in the beginning, ‘I’m going to lean on you guys because I want to learn and make it easier for you.’ He worked on learning quickly and not relying on us, and he picked it up from what we did and took it on himself.”

The Lions finished 4-7 in a highly competitive American Conference, and 8-11 overall, a marked improvement over the past two seasons.

“The season went so well, I couldn’t ask for a better year,” Thistlewaite said. “With having a new coach, having lost some key players, we had an amazing season.”

In both lacrosse and field hockey – which didn’t name any captains – Thistlewaite made sure her voice was heard as a senior and a leader. Sometimes, her voice was heard way too early in the morning.

“I’m definitely the ‘rah-rah’ person,” she said. “I’m at one at the 7 am practices screaming her head off. I tend to be a loud person in practice and in games. Because I was center back in defense in field hockey, I’m the last person before the goalie, so I see the field as much as the goalie. So, I try to be loud and direct people.

“In practices, if you’re not having fun, you’re not getting a lot out of it. If there’s high energy and high excitement, you enjoy it more and get more out of it. I remember my freshman year, our captains in field hockey were super-energetic and fun. I wanted to pick up on that and be able to do the same when I was in that position.”

As a player, Thistlewaite proved to be a defensive standout in field hockey (a First-Team All-League selection this year and Second-Team All-League player as a junior), and an exceptional midfielder in lacrosse (a First-Team All-League selection as a sophomore and junior – this season’s All-League teams have yet to be announced).

But she’s also proven to be a remarkably consistent and positive player, no matter the score, no matter the opponent.

“There were times during the course of the year when we’re losing, and sometimes you see your best players’ shoulders slumped, the effort’s not there,” Connors said. “You never had to worry about that with Madie. She didn’t play to score, and she didn’t play to what the scoreboard was showing. She played the game and she led by example. In timeouts, she always had something positive for the team to hold onto. ‘Here’s what we have to do better.’ And if we were winning, she would continue to do the right things, stay focused and keep the team focused.”

“I learned not to focus on the scoreboard, but to be more focused on how the team is playing and how I’m playing,” Thistlewaite said. “Whether we’re up by a lot or the game is close, we have to keep playing at our level. And there are always things to work on. If a team is super-aggressive, or they’re not as skilled as we are, we know what we need to focus on in those situations, so we have to make sure we’re playing well if we want to come out on top.”

While Thistlewaite is far more concerned with the success of the team as a whole, she admits there were two milestones she was aiming to reach this season. In a league game against Plymouth Whitemarsh on April 17, Thistlewaite scored the 200th goal of her New Hope-Solebury career. In that same game, she picked up her 100th draw control of the season.

Her reaction to reaching both accomplishments in the same game?

“Relieved,” she said with a laugh. “I knew I was getting close to both 200 goals and 100 draw controls, and it was kind of stressful. So it was relieving to finally get them, and really cool to get them both in the same game. My teammates went all-out for it, I think they were more excited than I was. It was so much fun and super-exciting, and it meant so much to see my teammates so excited for me. I just tried to absorb as much of the excitement as I could.”

In her field hockey career, Thistlewaite was a member of three District One Championship squads as part of the Lions’ remarkable six-year run as District Champs. And while the Lions fell in the district finals this season, Thistlewaite has nothing but fond memories, and maybe a life lesson or two, from her senior year in field hockey.

“We lost a lot of key seniors from last year, but we played together as a whole team, which was very important,” she said. “We accomplished a lot this year. We didn’t win districts, but we learned the lesson throughout the season that winning is not always guaranteed, you have to work toward it.”

Thistlewaite has no regrets about what she knows was her final season of varsity field hockey. She will put down the hockey stick to focus on lacrosse in college, once again following in the family footsteps while once again boldly blazing her own path.

In the fall, Thistlewaite will head west to attend Bucknell University, the alma mater of her father Scott, who graduated in 1994 and played football for the Bison.

Yet, despite the family ties, Bucknell wasn’t even on Thistlewaite’s radar when she began her search for college.

“Bucknell is almost my second home, I’ve been there a million times,” she said. “But going into the recruiting process, Bucknell was not on my list. But in the middle of the recruiting process, they reached out, and when I had my official visit and looked around, ‘Wait, I really, really like this place.’ I’m super-excited to go there. Bucknell checks off all my boxes of what I want out of college.

“Both my older sisters play in college as well, I’ve been able to see what they’ve been doing, and I want to keep going as well. I love lacrosse too much to let it go right now. I feel like it’s going to be a motivator to make myself better, not just as a player but as a student. It’s difficult to play a sport in college, so I want to make that a motivator to make myself better.”

And while Thistlewaite brings a resume loaded with titles, honors and milestones, the legacy she leaves behind at New Hope-Solebury is far more than can be measured in scorebooks.

That’s certainly the opinion of someone who only coached Thistlewaite for one year, but who knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a great player, great leader, and great person.

“I started coaching basketball in 1984, so I’ve been doing this a long time,” Connors said. “I will put Madie up there with any athlete I have had in my 40 years of coaching. Madie is a special kid. I was lucky to have someone like that. They don’t come every year.

“The responsibility of the captain is to serve other people, and she does that 10-fold. Her leadership, the type of person she is … she cares about her teammates and the program. Over the years, people forget the goals you scored, but the person you are and the leadership you provided, they remember that. And they’ll remember Madie.”