When Westmont College convinced soccer star Maddi Berthoud to trade Manchester by the Sea for Montecito by the Sea, the Warrior recruiter made a prescient observation about the midfielder from Massachusetts.
“Maddi brings an international flare,” former coach Chantel Cappuccilli said before the 2016 season.
Berthoud’s post-Westmont journey, which began in February with Switzerland’s FF Lugano, has now taken her to Italy’s Calcio Pomigliano. The second division power signed her to a 10-month, professional contract earlier this month.
“I felt that once I got a taste of the professional life in Switzerland, it reignited my childhood dream and I had to continue pursuing it while I am this passionate about it,” said Berthoud, who holds Swiss citizenship. “Since everything is still so crazy with COVID, I am so grateful to have found the opportunity and to have the European citizenship that allows me to come to Europe during this time.”
She missed the first two games of Calico Pomigliano’s season while her paperwork was being completed but has since made three consecutive substitute appearances. The team is tied atop the Serie B standings with 11 points and a 3-0-2 record.
Berthoud quarantined with family in Switzerland for two months after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted FF Lugano’s season. She returned to her hometown of Rowley, Mass., after her Swiss league — Nationalliga A — finally canceled its season in May.
“While I was home, I felt that I really wanted to continue playing professionally, so I got an agent to help me find opportunities,” she said. “With COVID, it was very difficult to find a team, so I had to wait until mid-September for the offer to come through.”
Berthoud is one of only five Westmont players to have received All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors in four straight seasons. She was named GSAC Newcomer of the Year in 2016 and twice earned NAIA All-America honorable mention. She is tied for sixth in career assists (28), eighth in points (110) and ninth in goals (41) in the Warriors’ record book.
“It will be hard to replace someone who has as much drive as Maddi Berthoud,” Jenny Jaggard said after completing her first season as Westmont’s head coach last fall. “Maddi loves the game. She works at it and puts in 100% effort on her soccer.
“Her one-on-one skill is unmatched. She is patient and has such great tempo, unhurried, but quick.”
Berthoud led last year’s Warriors to their first GSAC championship since 2015. They advanced to the NAIA quarterfinals and finished with a record of 16-4-1.
“Maddi has so much passion for soccer and for sharing the love of God with others,” Jaggard observed. “I am excited that she has this opportunity to continue to use her talents on the field while learning about another culture and continuing her education.”
Berthoud, who twice earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors at Westmont, is in her third quarter of a master’s program through Fuller Theological Seminary. Her goal is to earn a PhD and become a professor of religious studies.
“We have a lot of free time in the day before training so it gives me structure and something to be working towards as I play,” she said. “What I am learning equips me for ministry, which I feel I am able to do here and now on my team and something that will always be a part of my life.”
She decided to take Italian lessons when she arrived in Switzerland since it is a main language spoken in Lugano.
“What I learned there has really helped me here (in Italy),” Berthoud said. “My ability to understand is better than my ability to speak, but I am really happy with the progress I have made.
“I make a lot of effort to speak Italian with my teammates and that has helped me integrate into the team.”
Her playing time with Calico Pomigliano has increased with each of her three matches this month.
“I’m thrilled she’s living out her dream, and it’s been exciting to watch her get more playing time,” Westmont assistant coach Lauren Matthias said. “Playing professionally abroad has always been a dream of Maddi’s.
“COVID-19 made fulfilling this dream even more challenging, but it is no surprise that Maddi found a way to make it happen.”