Set aside the brilliant high school career, the 21 goals as a defenseman this season and her signing with the Gophers. What made Blake’s Madeline Wethington a fitting Ms. Hockey recipient is what she represents to the sport’s growth.

Wethington received the award on Sunday, one day after the 25th girls’ hockey state tournament. In the banquet audience at the St. Paul RiverCentre was her mom, Kerry Brodt Wethington. A 1990 graduate of Roseville, Brodt Wethington was born five years too early to play girls’ high school hockey.

So when Madeline Wethington took the podium for her acceptance speech, she spoke with wisdom beyond her 18 years, reminding her peers to cherish their opportunities.

“She’s almost like an old soul,” said aunt Winny Brodt Brown, the inaugural winner in 1996 of Ms. Hockey, given to the state’s top senior girls’ hockey player. “It’s pretty incredible how she sees the big picture. And I think that has something to do with knowing her mom missed all this. She grew up pretty grateful for all the opportunities she’s had.”

Kerry Brodt Wethington helped Roseville win the 1988 girls’ soccer state championship and later became the first women’s hockey coach at St. Cloud State. She played boys’ youth hockey but experienced a wintertime void throughout high school.

“Sometimes I feel really sorry that she didn’t get the opportunity to play so I try to not take it for granted,” Madeline said.

Recently named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, Wethington played on teams that won three Class 1A state titles and tallied 150 career points. Only reigning three-time state champion Edina kept Blake from reaching the Class 2A state tournament the past two years.

The other finalists for Ms. Hockey were forwards CC Bowlby of Edina, Izzy Daniel of Blake and Kelsey King of Elk River/Zimmerman and defenseman Kaitlyn Kotlowski of Warroad.

Calla Frank of White Bear Lake was named the Senior Goalie of the Year. Both awards are sponsored by Let’s Play Hockey, the Wild, GoodWood Hockey and Os Hockey.