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Magi soccer midfielder Walter Markle concluding a five-year varsity stint

Alex Eisen/MDN Midfielder Walter Markle (center) takes a shot in a Minot High alumni game played last season at the Optimist Soccer Complex.

Walter Markle arrived on the scene with a bang and never faded away.

While his first goal for the Minot High School boys varsity soccer team was arguably his best goal, Markle’s legacy with the Magicians only grew from there. It expanded far beyond his memorable moments of brilliance on the pitch.

From a determined eighth-grader to a senior team leader, Markle’s impact over the last five seasons hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Walter Markle has embodied the entire Magicians soccer program,” MHS head coach Creighton Bachmeier said. “The way he carries himself on the soccer field, in the classroom, on the bus, everywhere where people have eyes on you. Walter Markle does darn everything perfectly. He has been a treat to coach from that eighth-grade year and watching him grow not only as a soccer player but as a leader and quality human being.

“He has meant a lot not only to the program, but to me personally. It’s going to be tough to see him go, as well as our other seniors. He has done everything I have asked him to do and more.”

Alex Eisen/MDN Century defender Zach Bares (16) shields the ball away from Walter Markle (40) in the boys soccer 2017 WDA Tournament championship game in Mandan.

Walter started playing soccer because of his older brother Wyatt. The two siblings played two varsity

seasons together at Minot High when Walter was an eighth-grader and then a freshman.

“I was always at my brother’s games with my parents, so I was like, ‘I might as well do it too,'” Walter Markle said. “It’s the same for a bunch of other guys on the team. Our older brothers were all the same age, so we were all at their games together. So, that’s how I started playing.”

The veteran Magi cast at the time, who were also members of the Minot Soccer Association recreation club team called the Flying Circus, took Markle under their wing and prepared him for liftoff. Some of those mentors included Wyatt, Evan Bolinske, JJ Johannsen, Avery Weishaar, Hadley Thomas and Lucas Lauckner.

“They helped get my confidence up,” Walter Markle said. “So, I could come out and play on the big field under the lights.”

The lights weren’t too bright for the budding middle schooler.

“He started from the very beginning,” Bachmeier said. “Any chance he was able to start, he started because he could play multiple positions. His work rate was unlike anybody else. He was strong on the ball and tough in the air. He had all those extra qualities. Maybe he wasn’t there tactically yet, but technically and physically, he was there. He could do everything that you asked him to do.”

The most notable difference, on the field, was Markle’s stature.

“I was a good foot and a half, or two feet shorter than everyone,” he said. “So, yeah, I was just this little kid running around on the field.”

Agile and versatile, Markle could get to anywhere on the field as a box-to-box midfielder. A rare trait to possess, especially at a young age.

Bachmeier and his coaching staff recognized Markle’s potential early on as he was going through the youth ranks. Before offering him a rare varsity tryout, since middle schoolers are typically sought out by the coaching staff personally, Markle approached Bachmeier first.

“He took the initiative, so it was gutsy on his part,” Bachmeier said. “I already knew who he was, but I’m glad he did. He wanted to get better. So, I told him, ‘Do this, this and this over the summer, and we will give you a real shot.’ He did, and passed it with flying colors.”

Blasting in a 35-yard missile on a half-volley to notch Markle’s first varsity goal confirmed Bachmeier had made the right decision.

“He just sprinted to it and smacked it first-time — screamed it by the goalkeeper at the near post,” Bachmeier said. “I’ll never forget that goal at the Complex. It was such an uplifting goal from a younger kid at a crucial time in the game.”

The highlight-reel goal came three minutes into the second half against Bismarck St. Mary’s to cushion Minot’s lead. The Magi won 4-0 on Sept. 22, 2016, with Johannsen stealing most of the headlines with a hat trick.

“That’s probably my favorite memory,” Markle said. “I have pictures of my brother and I walking back to the halfway line after I scored. It was always awesome playing with my brother.”

As the years went on, Markle became the figurative older brother to the next generation of Magi soccer players coming up behind him. A natural progression from being a soft-spoken role player to an articulate leader.

“They come in a little quieter, but now he is the top dog,” Bachmeier said. “He is vocal and helps every younger kid out in the best way that he can. I think it helped as an eighth-grader having his older brother on the team. There was an older group of boys that Walter hung around because his brother was there. So, you got to see him take on their personalities and then his own.”

Leading by example, Markle has become a role model in another commendable Magi leadership group that highly resembles the one he admired growing up.

“His infectious smile and how he treats other people is a memory I’ll always have,” Bachmeier said. “I have my own kid, and you want him to grow up and be like a Walter Markle.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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