Thibodeaux goes from broken jaw to signing with Co-Lin

Published 11:31 am Friday, February 3, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — A year ago, Maelee Thibodeaux was recovering from a broken jaw injury suffered in a game against Franklin County. She said a Franklin County striker was dribbling down the line when she came out of the goal and slid to catch the ball. 

While she caught the ball, the Franklin County player kept running and her cleat caught Thibodeaux and broke her jaw. It took about 2-4 weeks to recover from the injury. She was unable to eat any solid foods and relied on soups and nutrition shakes to get through the recovery process. 

Friday morning, she signed with Co-Lin Soccer beside her dad Buddy Thibodeaux and mom Sheri Thibodeaux. Her jaw is fully healed and a soccer ball with well wishes from her teammates sat on the table as she signed her letter of intent to play at Co-Lin. She will be a goalkeeper for the Wolves. 

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“I’m glad I got the chance to go up at Co-Lin. I talked to coach Tom Cosgrave and he told me that they are not the team who started there a few years ago. They have won more and were ranked this year,” Thibodeaux said. “If he can do that I want the opportunity to play for his program. It is close home. Before I was committed to play soccer, it was where I wanted to go. My two best friends are going to Co-Lin. I can meet new people there too. I’m more of a homebody and I felt Co-Lin was right for me.” 

She plans to study business and go into real estate because she enjoys meeting new people.

Her career in soccer started in ninth grade after playing softball the previous two seasons. She said Kevin Bower was the head coach at the time and told her she should tryout for the team and she did. 

Similar to Co-Lin bouncing back from not having a program to a 10-4-3 season, Thibodeaux bounced back from her broken jaw this year. She said the first few games were hard as she had to get comfortable in goal. 

Head Coach Dustin Bairfield started her in the field early this season but moved her back into the goal. It took a few games for Thibodeaux to get used to playing as a goalie but she did. When they played Franklin County this year, she had a strong game in net.

“I had to step it up. We beat them, which was great. It was nerve wracking going back in goal though,” Thibodeaux said. “The more I played the more comfortable I grew with the position. I grew better relationships with my teammates and worked well with the defense. It became comfortable. I am thankful for the experience and my family, coaches and God.” 

Thibodeaux and her teammates enjoyed pieces of cake and sugar cookies to celebrate the signing as Bairfield stopped to talk about her character. A hard worker, she came back better and determined from the injury, Bairfield said. 

He added she worked hard on and off the field. Her toughness showed in the goal. 

“She is a great goalkeeper and it is one of the hardest positions to play. If you block the shot everyone is for you but if you don’t it is hard to get past it. You have to be determined and stay focused,” Bairfield said. “She had that determination. She is also one of our captains and leaders of the team. She controls the defense. It is what you ask of someone who is a leader and self-determined. It is what makes her stand out.”

The chance to play at a local school is great. Bairfield said she could go on and play at a senior college with her ability if she chooses too. He could see where MSU or Ole Miss could consider offering her a chance to play. As a coach, he is excited he has two players going to play soccer at the college level. 

“We had two girls sign to go play soccer and that is a great accomplishment for the team and as a coach,” Bairfield said. “We can get them to the level they need to be.”