There is no question Duluth Marshall’s Maren Friday likes to stay busy.
When the Division I hockey recruit’s season on the ice was over last February, she joined the basketball team for its state tournament playoff run.
When she wasn’t seeing enough action at striker on the Hilltoppers’ soccer team, she took on the role of central midfielder in order to be more active offensively and defensively.
Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shelved high school athletics for the foreseeable future, Friday is altering her daily planner to find ways to maintain her fitness level and be prepared for whenever sports make a return.
Though she plans on playing hockey at Division I Union College next fall, the 5-foot-11 senior stood tallest on Northland soccer fields this year. She is the News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year.
The Class A All-State first-team selection scored 24 goals and added nine assists for the Hilltoppers (13-2), setting a school record with 78 career goals during her six years on varsity.
“I don’t even feel like a senior,” Friday said. “I feel like I’m going to come back next year and we’ll all play together. I’m not sure when it’s going to hit me that it’s all over.”
Friday led the Hilltoppers to the Section 7A final, won 1-0 by Cloquet-Carlton.
After years of playing up front, Friday found her ideal role in the center of the pitch. Again, her need to be in the middle of the action played a part.
“I feel like I am a striker at heart because I originally was. Then I got moved to outside mid and, eventually, center mid. But that was where I truly belonged,” she said. “As a striker, what I didn’t like was sitting there and watching while everyone was down in the (penalty area). I’m a person who wants to be involved in everything on the field. I just want to be a part of the play, and center mid gave me that opportunity.”
Marshall coach Nic Bacigalupo said that was an example of Friday’s overall skill level.
“At times we had her pushing up high, at times we had her staying in the middle and at times we had her staying back,” the coach said. “It showed the caliber of player that she is, that she was able to score and yet be in a crucial role (elsewhere on the field).”
Despite the constant threat of the coronavirus pandemic shutting down programs, the Hilltoppers’ season went on without a hitch.
“I am incredibly thankful that we were able to have a season,” Friday said. “It was relatively normal. The most important thing was adaptability and to be flexible.”
As with other Northland teams, Friday says the pandemic brought the players closer together.
“I definitely think it did help with bonding because everyone realized the seriousness of the situation and every moment together could have been our last,” she said. “The varsity and JV teams were more connected this season. In all my years at Marshall, I’ve never seen us that in sync with one another. It brought us all together.”
She hopes the same can be said for her winter activity and primary sport: hockey.
Friday has been working on her shooting and stickhandling at home in preparation for a season that can begin Dec. 19 at the earliest, per an executive order by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
“I’m trying to keep positive and look on the bright side,” she said. “Trying to stay together as a team has been a little rough, but we’re doing team meetings and having everyone stay connected. But we’ll get through it, and I’m hoping for a season of some kind.”