FORT WORTH, Texas — When it comes to assessing the athletic mechanics of her son, Markaven Green Jr., Stephanie Marshall admittedly doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
In many aspects, it’s apparent she actually does.
Take, for instance, Green Jr.’s continuous strides he’s made in recent years as an amateur soccer player in the always-competitive Dallas-Fort Worth area.
A nine-year-old dual-sport athlete, Green Jr., — widely known as Mark — was a fixture in baseball and soccer. However, as his mother explains, he had ultimately adopted “a knack” for soccer.
Now we know why.
Earlier this year, for example, while playing for a competitive team in the Fort-Worth area, Mark — who had evolved as a prolific scorer on the field much like a swingman or combo guard in basketball — had become virtually frustrated in seeing his team pile up on losses.
That essentially is when he decided to take over a game which, of course, is how marquee players customarily respond.
In putting on arguably his grandest display to date, Mark tallied a season-best seven goals in a game that eventually ended with both teams tied at 7.
Sounding every bit like a coach, of sorts, Marshall hinted that she had never seen her son play with such assertiveness and resiliency, much less a sense of urgency.
“I love going to his games,” Marshall said during a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “The other parents definitely know when I am there, because I am up and down the sidelines yelling and cheering for our team. I am there to support my son and to encourage him. If no one else ever cheers for him, he knows that his family is always in his corner.”
Now it in his fifth full year of playing competitive soccer, Mark last week wrapped up the outdoor portion of competition as indoor play commenced this week.
As usual, he appears just as poised in having a notable impact as a defender for the FC Saginaw 9-and-under boys team that is sanctioned by the Eagle Mountain Saginaw Association in Fort Worth.
“He runs fast and is well coordinated,” said Marshall, sounded like a coach yet again. “At first, it was kind of hard to watch him learn the game, because there were other players who had experience with (other) sports. But Mark was persistent and paid close attention to what his coaches told him. His skill level immensely increased, and he became one of the key players on any team he played with.”
Consequently, it was because he had become coachable, coupled with his winning attitude that this young Texarkana, Texas native wasted little time emerging as the catalyst for FC Saginaw, something even his mother fully welcomes, considering her son is making a strong case that he appears destined to excel mightily in the sport for he’s come to love.
“I was very excited to see that he was doing well, but I wanted him on a team with a coach that could push him harder and further than he ever thought that he could do,” Marshall explains. “That is what I found with his current team, FC Saginaw, and his coach, Carlos Carrasco. I am excited to see the growth, and I know that he is dedicated to being the best player that he can be both offensively and defensively.”
Besides his mother, Marshall said Mark’s stepfather, Joel Marshall, whom he deems, “Papi,” also has contributed greatly to the evolution as a thriving young athlete.
“When it comes to sports, (We) encourage Mark to be consistent. Learn the sport and do it well,” Marshall said. We encourage him to keep his grades up in the classroom, as well as on the field. Mark wants to be a soccer coach when he grows up. This is after going to college on a scholarship and playing professional soccer. His dad just reminds him to keep his priorities straight both in the classroom and on the field.”
Five years removed from having crossed paths with a sport for which he’s come to embrace, Marshall acknowledged those who follow her son’s rise as a youth soccer talent are convinced his best days are well ahead of him.
Even after going on a tear and registering seven goals in a game.
“God is on his side,” Marshall said. “He is a smart boy with a very close knit and supportive natural and spiritual family. Mark is very passionate about what he does, and that passion will keep him always pushing for greater. Mark is smart in the classroom and on the field. He knows how to take what he learns and use it for his benefit.”
Who knows that better than mom?
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.