A catchy jingle greets Madison Alves upon reporting to work these days at Warwick’s Chelo’s Waterfront Bar & Grille.
It’s one example of how much the life of the Cranston West junior has changed. Another example can be found when Alves checks to see what work shifts she’s been assigned.
“In my schedule now, my name is SportsCenter,” said Alves. “Every time I walk in, someone makes [ESPN’s] catchphrase sound.”
You know how it goes … DaDaDa, DaDaDa.
It wasn’t your garden variety, ho-hum successful field-goal attempt that landed Alves a coveted spot on the Aug. 25 edition of SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. We’re talking about a successful 50-yard make that, upon receiving national acclaim, quickly circulated on social media.
— Cranston Athletics (@cranston_athl) August 25, 2020
“I can’t believe my daughter made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 list! Best Alves football player ever??!!,” wrote proud father Steve Alves on his personal Twitter account, his post including video of the kick heard ‘round Cranston West and beyond.’
As of Thursday, the tweet had generated over 7,500 views. Talk about finding favor with the general public.
In the eyes of the teenage girl with the powerful right foot, it’s been a blissful whirlwind since her inclusion on ESPN’s flagship program.
“Growing up, I watched ESPN all the time,” said Alves. “Just to get this type of recognition is overwhelming in the best way possible. I still can’t believe I was on SportsCenter.”
The road to ESPN fame took shape a few weeks before Alves’ lengthy blast received the Top-10 treatment. Near the conclusion of a football summer workout at Cranston West’s new turf field, Steve Alves grabbed the football kicking stand and placed it on the 40-yard line.
On her first and what turned out to be her only try from that distance on that particular day, Alves nailed a 50-yarder that, per the video, didn’t just clear the cross bar. The ball’s trajectory was high enough that Alves laughed when it was suggested the kick may have been on-target from 60 yards.
Alves made that play look insanely easy, considering its degree of difficulty.
“Little bit of a tailwind, but nothing overly significant,” said Steve Alves, an assistant coach at Cranston West, when asked to describe the weather conditions.
The road to eventual SportsCenter fame intensified when Alves worked out at Cranston’s Olympia Fitness. In casual conversation with Dr. Ross Levine, Steve Alves mentioned Madison’s booming kick – one that, in a different universe, would have made her the odds-on favorite to be the first kicker off the board in your fantasy football draft.
Alves remembers, “(Dr. Ross) said (to me) he had a good friend who works at ESPN. Let me send it to her.”
The very next day, Alves checked in at No. 10 on ESPN’s daily countdown of top plays. The funny thing is that neither father nor daughter witnessed the footage live on the sports cable company that prides itself as the Worldwide Leader in sports programming. Steve Alves was relayed word as part of a group text chat with the Cranston West coaching staff. Young Madison was working at Chelo’s when she received a phone call from dad and her mom Lisa.
“I was in total shock,” said Madison. “The endless support from friends and family since it came out … the fact that I even got on there is just so crazy.”
“To see myself on TV … I’m so glad that I’ll be able to watch that as I get older. I’m going to save that forever,” added Alves.
Removing the ESPN aura from the equation, Madison Alves now has a definitive answer when someone asks about her range.
“I can finally say I can reach 50 on a good day,” she said with a slight laugh.
Between her freshman and sophomore years, Alves has attempted 50 point-after tries. She’s been pure 40 times. Entering her junior season, Alves has elevated her ability to the point where the Falcons may expand her workload to kickoffs and field goals.
“I like to believe I’ve gotten a little bit better over the years,” said Alves. “Whatever they need, I’m here.”
Just in case any of her Cranston West teammates believe they have what it takes to kick a football, Madison is right there to remind them that it’s hardly child’s play. Whether the whistle blows during practice and the field-goal unit is told to hurry out there, or it is simply an after-practice session featuring father and daughter, based on the time and effort she puts forth to working her craft, the odds are pretty good that Alves is going to put on an aerial display each time she summoned.
“They know she’s more than just a kicker who happens to be a girl. They know she’s a football player,” said Steve Alves. “She’s not just a sideshow. She’s definitely an asset.”
Just for kicks, Steve sent Madison’s video to West Warwick native Bob Wylie, a coaching veteran of eight NFL organizations and a close family friend. Wylie passed along the footage to someone who runs a football kicking camp out in Arizona.
“They sent Maddie a few critiques … don’t lean back and stay straight up,” said Steve Alves. “Coach Wylie mentioned an opportunity could be out there if she gets to 55-60 yards.”
For the longest time, Madison Alves was known as a soccer player who happened to also play football. Thanks to ESPN, she’s seeing football in a whole new light.
“With everything that’s been coming my way, maybe I’d consider saying I’m both a soccer player and a football player,” she said.
By the way, if you think that fame has gone to her head, think again.
“I’ve got to keep working and proving to myself and to others what I’m capable of,” said Madison.