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Bradenton Connections Bring Arkansas Sisters to the IMG Academy soccer program

Maggie, left, and Emma Gartner
Maggie, left, and Emma Gartner

Springdale, Arkansas, aka "The Chicken Capital of the World," is home to Tyson Foods, the Wichita Wranglers, and Maggie and Emma Gartner- campers at the IMG Academy soccer program. Arriving in Springfield via Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they have lived there for five years and in Bradenton for a week, but not absent of family connections to the area; they are staying with their grandparents while training at IMG and their Aunt teaches Spanish at IMG Academy- the IMG Academy' on- site school.

Emma, a fifteen-year-old junior, is loving the goalkeeping focus she is getting from goalkeeper's coach Scott Bowers. "You don't often find that and the coaches really know what they're doing." Maggie, a sixteen-year-old senior, likes the quality of the coaching staff and the competition she gets playing alongside the boys, but admits the latter part is a challenge. The best part of their off-field experience is unanimously meeting new people and being around all different cultures.

In Springdale, a city in Northwest Arkansas, they share the field as teammates on Har-Ber High School soccer team. They also play club soccer for the NWA Lightning with Maggie playing for the State Champ U18 squad and Emma playing for the U16 team- a team that made it all the way to the regional tournament. The sisters run cross country and Maggie hoops it up during basketball season but soccer is the favorite of both. They are also equipped with mathematical minds, Maggie identifying Calculus as her favorite subject and the younger Emma claiming Pre-Calculus for her favorite.

Maggie is starting the college search and recruiting process. She wants to play in college but said it is too early on in the process to predict where she will end up but academically she is leaning towards a focus on forensic science. Emma has Olympic Development Camp in Alabama later on in the summer. Although they spoke highly of the Academy's coaching staff, there is one coach in particular they will both miss: Marcelo Carrera, the IMG Academy soccer program's Head Women's Coach.

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