And She LOVES It!
It’s so trite, and everyone says it…and I’ve tried as hard as I can all of my life not to be like everyone else, and yet…I couldn’t help myself. “Where in the world did the time go?”
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I watched Madison Hagood walk into her kindergarten class, see her stand beside my first grandchild, Colten? Wasn’t it just a little while ago that all of those children were running through my yard for the various parties, having hot chocolate on the porch of our old general store as we celebrated Halloween together?
Could it have been longer than just last week that we were preparing for UIL contests, practicing reading those silly little poems in some way that would stand out to those who judged?
Obviously, it has been. And yet, there was something about the little girl who walked back into my home this morning as a young woman that was still the same, carrying some possessed quality that seemed to roll back the years as if they had never passed at all, and I liked that. Oh, in her bright red T, leggings, and cool boots, her long blonde hair in a braid, Madison Hagood’s easy smile revealed that she has obviously gained a bit of the worldly sophistication that comes through travel and college experiences, but it was equally obvious that she indeed is still “our” Madison, small town Texas girl, and I wanted to know about everything that has happened to her since she graduated from Comanche High School last May.
What I found is that Madison is living life and loving life at Oklahoma Christian, and right now, she wouldn’t change a thing!
“I couldn’t wait to get to college! I was actually the last of my friends to leave town, and I was feeling pretty left behind before it was my turn to leave,” she admitted. “Then…we suddenly decided to go a day early so I did not even realize that I was sleeping in my bed for the last night, and that was a little hard. I think leaving my grandparents and Austin [Madison’s younger brother] behind was the hardest part of all.”
Because Madison had already spent 10 days in Vienna, where she took her first actual university class, she was probably a bit more prepared than most to say goodbye to her parents that day on the OC campus.
“The people I traveled to Vienna with were all incoming freshmen to OC. The school uses this trip as a way for freshmen to make new friends before actually stepping onto the campus. We took our first class in Vienna, and we all became great friends. It was crazy really because none of us had the same interests, etc. but we became very close and have remained close. In fact, I brought four of those friends home with me to Comanche just last weekend.”
And then we moved the conversation to campus life.
“It is a lot calmer than I thought it would be. Of course, I do go to a Christian university, and we do have a lot of rules. I had in my mind that college was going to be this crazy thing, and I am actually thankful that I don’t have to deal with those problems every night. Don’t get me wrong; you can still find any problem that you want to find, but they are just not as blatant as they are at other universities. OC does a really good job of making sure that Christian values are at the forefront of everything we do.”
So what has her biggest challenge been this semester? According to Madison, that challenge was balance, and she believes she has finally conquered it.
“The first few weeks were really difficult. We were practicing softball 20 hours a week and I’m taking 15 hours this semester. I was trying to make new friends, keep old friends, and keep my classes going. Plus, I was trying to stay involved in all of the activities.”
Madison, of course, is attending OC on a softball scholarship and from the beginning of the term until her fall break, the team has practiced 20 hours per week. From now until the second semester, that practice time is cut to only 8 hours per week, which gives her much more time to conquer other things.
“Right now, I actually have more time than I did in high school. On a normal day, I get up about 5:30 and am working out (MWF) in our indoor facility by 6:00. I leave in time to shower and am in class by 9:00. We all attend chapel every day before lunch.”
And, of course, all of that will change when the next semester rolls around. Then, Madison will be taking classes, practicing for 20 hours per week, and playing games on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays….and making sure that she is keeping up in the class that she will often miss on Fridays. Thankfully, it is only one class.
“We do travel on a bus to our out of town games, but that bus is a little different than the yellow dog we took to the state tournament last year!” she laughed as she described what could only be called plush next to what she was used to in Comanche.
One thing that Madison shared with me that was unexpected (at least to me) is the fact that her pitching coach has the team’s four pitchers swimming twice per week, an hour on Mondays and 30 minutes on Tuesdays. And when I saw swimming, I do mean swimming, not simply playing in the water.
“Our coach stays right with us and tells us what to do. He says that we can increase our velocity by 5mph through swimming.”
With only 16 people on the softball team, you can see what an honor it was for Madison to be chosen, and she knows that she will see action as a freshman, something not many college athletes get to do.
“We have four pitchers, and we will all be in the rotation,” she explained.
And then, the college freshman went on to explain what softball has done for her through the years.
“I started playing select ball when I was 12, and that has helped me prepare for life more than anything else I have ever done. I’m really such a shy, quiet person, and I could not meet people easily and certainly not talk to people that I did not know. Playing on teams where I knew no one did so much to bring me out of my shell, and I am so thankful for those experiences.
“I remember my first select team, and I was terrified because I did not know any of them, and they all seemed to know each other already. By the time I got to my 6th team, it was easy for me to introduce myself and join the group. I could not have done that if it had not been for select ball. This year, when my old friends are having trouble meeting people and making friends, I can feel for them because I have been there, but I am not there now.”
Madison went on to chat with me about that fact that she does see this as one drawback to living in a small town and attending a small high school, and yet, she does actually miss CHS.
“I do miss high school, especially softball season. I miss that a lot. The school mailed me my annual, and that was sad. If I could go back and relive it all again, I would not take it for granted…” she trailed off, and then I reminded her of one of my favorite quotes.
“Life can only be understood backward; unfortunately, it can only be lived forward.”
Madison laughed again when she told me that she still sends her high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Ingram, her papers when she needs help. Considering that I still receive those papers from former students, I did not find that strange at all!
“Mrs. Ingram was a big influence in my life, and I still send her papers to correct. My professors still scare me!”
Because of softball and her many interests, the young woman from Comanche, Texas probably has a much more detailed plan for her life than most college freshmen. The first goal is for the softball team to make it to the World Series this season. Should that happen, the team will continue to play until the end of May even though her semester will be over by the end of April.
After that, Madison is scheduled to go on a mission trip to Western Europe for six weeks, where “I will be helping people improve their English and reading skills by studying one of the Gospels. I believe it is going to be Luke. I will be there with two of my friends from the Vienna trip. It will be a great opportunity because we will have our weekends for travel, and we play to see a lot.”
And then, Madison plans to do it all again next summer by spending six weeks in a Summer Study Abroad program, where she will be in Vienna for six weeks.
“I believe college is the time to see the world, and I am so excited because I have always wanted to see Europe. Last time I was there for ten days. I can’t wait to spend six weeks there!