Maldonado says farewell to Whitewater, enters transfer portal


Freshman kicker Matt Maldonado makes another field goal for the Warhawk football team.

Mikey Rottier, Assistant Sports Editor

Freshman kicker Matt Maldonado had an impressive season for the UW-Whitewater football team. Maldonado worked his way up to the first string kicker, punter and kickoff man for the Warhawks in no time. Now, after a successful freshman season, Maldonado has entered the transfer portal and hopes to receive a scholarship offer to a Division I or Division II university. 

Football was not even a factor for the majority of Maldonado’s life. After playing soccer throughout his childhood and into high school, he decided to put his skills to the test in a different sport. His soccer skills translated over to football as well as he could have imagined and have blossomed into a collegiate football career.

“I played soccer from the time I was four until I was sixteen. Then in my junior year of high school one of my buddies thought I should try out as the kicker for the football team,” Maldonado said. “I didn’t start on the varsity team right away because we had a Division I recruit who was a senior while I was a junior. I was able to sit back and learn from him a little bit and then started my senior year.”

With the combination of learning from a Division I talent and his already developed kicking skills from soccer, Maldonado had a successful senior season. Not only did Maldonado transform himself from a soccer player into a football player, he then started to gain recognition from colleges. Whitewater’s state of the art facilities stood out to him and shaped his decision to become a Warhawk.

“Whitewater reached out to me and gave me the opportunity to come here and try out. The biggest draw for me was mainly the facilities. Division III usually gets a bad reputation for facilities and what there is to offer. When I went to visit Whitewater, they had one of the best facilities out of all the tours I went on. That peaked my interest and the coaching staff was very welcoming,” Maldonado said. 

As a Warhawk Maldonado was starting by the end of his freshman season. He hit 12 of his 16 field goal tries, including an impressive 49 yard attempt to help Whitewater top La Crosse 13-6 at Perkins Stadium, Nov. 6, to clinch the conference title. Maldonado had a successful season and played an important role on a team that made it just one game away from the National Championship. 

“I had to compete against three other freshmen and four older players at the beginning of the season but I ended up starting which was really cool,” Maldonado said. “The upperclassmen, even though they didn’t win the starting job, were super supportive. Even when I did mess up they were there for me. It was a really cool experience and something that I would never take for granted.”

Maldonado had such a successful season that it opened up a whole new array of possibilities for his future seasons. Maldonado entered the transfer portal shortly after the end of the season in hopes of receiving an offer from a Division I or II university that would be able to give him an athletic scholarship. 

“I wasn’t considering entering the portal at first because Whitewater has such a good program, but unfortunately Whitewater isn’t able to offer me a scholarship since they are a D3 and that was a big factor in my decision,” Maldonado said. “I want to ease the financial burden on my family because I have three other younger sisters and they all plan on going to college.”

Maldonado made it clear that his experience at Whitewater was an important one and one that he will not forget. He is thankful for his time as a Warhawk and for the opportunities and enjoyment that the university and the football program have brought him.

“The fan base at Whitewater is the best fan base I have ever seen or been a part of. The people were super supportive. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I wish I could have stayed but I have to put my family first,” Maldonado said. “If I knew anyone playing high school football, I would absolutely recommend Whitewater. The university has obviously done a lot for me and I’ll miss playing at Perkins Stadium.”

Maldonado says he has received multiple Division I and Division II offers after being rated the seventh best kicker in the entire country looking for a place to play next season. He plans on making and announcing his decision once his discussions with all schools have ended later this March. His main goal is to find somewhere he can go and earn a lot of playing time right off the bat and compete at a high level similar to Whitewater.