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Six-year athlete hopes for college career (VIDEO)

As a deligent athlete, junior Annaleah Madison, No. 5. has tried various sports including soccer, softball, tennis and basketball. However, Madison enjoys playing volleyball the most due to its fast pace and intensity.

She was first introduced to volleyball in fifth grade, when a close friend asked her to join the school team with her. Although she was not passionate about volleyball in the beginning, she grew to love the sport and kept up with it for close to seven years. Since then, Madison has not only played for FC, but also for club teams like Hoover Volleyball Club to broaden her skills.

This season, Madison is playing her second year on the varsity girls volleyball team. Even though competing at a varsity level can be difficult at times, she enjoys playing with teammates that are hard working.

“I absolutely love my team,” Madison said. “Because I know the girls extremely well and we are really close. I also know everyone?s strengths and weaknesses, so we work together to help each other. Being on a varsity team is very intense and challenging, but I love it. It makes me a better player and I have my amazing teammates to back me up.”

Due to lack of players this season, Madison was required to try several new positions. Although this may be difficult for most players, Madison was able to adjust.

“I’ve blocked for several years,” Madison said. “But this season, the coach has tried me in new positions. At first, I was a little scared to try new positions because I was afraid of messing up. But now that I got the hang of it, I actually love learning new positions and plays. It was hard to learn everything in the beginning, but I am definitely more comfortable now.”

According to Madison, she truly appreciates head coach Jeff MacNeil, since he pushes her to her maximum limit. She is also grateful for his guidance and encouragement.

“I really like coach MacNeil,” Madison said. “He pushes me past what I think my limit is. I can tell that he truly cares about his players, including myself. He is always encouraging us both on and off the court and tries his best to push us forward. I am so glad that he came back this year.”

Besides having ambitious teammates and a helpful coach, support from family members helped Madison tremendously over the years. She appreciates her parents coming to her games, since they always cheer her on.

“I love it when my parents come to my games,” Madison said. “It makes me feel really appreciated. They are really my biggest fans; even when I mess up, they are always cheering me on at the bench. I am grateful that I have such supportive parents.”

According to assistant coach Krista DeMars, Madison is a great leader on the court who is willing to listen.

“Annaleah is a wonderful volleyball player,” DeMars said. “She is a good leader. She always helps the younger girls and she is very coachable. When I tell her that she is doing something wrong, she does not question me but she tries her best to fix the problem.”

Madison says that volleyball helped strengthen her relationship with the Lord. She appreciates the Christ-like attitudes that her teammates and coaching staff display, because it helps her to remember that they are playing for God, not for their own glory.

“I definitely got closer to God through volleyball,” Madison said. “I ask God before every practice that I will play my hardest and give it all I got. Also, playing in a Christian environment helped too, since the players and coaches are believers that put God first before winning.”

According to Madison, her volleyball idol is Destinee Hooker, who played on the Women?s USA volleyball team. She also looks up to alumni Katelyn Miller,’12, since she had great abilities along with strong leadership skills.

“My volleyball idol is Destinee Hooker,” Madison said. “When I first saw her in the 2012 London Olympics, I was amazed by the energy she brought on to the court, and her fast speed. Besides Hooker, I look up to last year?s senior captain Katelyn Miller. Because she was a strong and competitive player that only strove for the best.”

Senior captain Bri Graff, who has been playing volleyball with Madison since junior high says that Madison has improved exceedingly over the years.

“I think Annaleah has improved a lot in many areas,” Graff said. “But an area I notice is her confidence in herself. She pushes herself to what she knows she can do and works at it until she accomplishes it. Her leadership on the court also improved, because she stood out this season by talking and encouraging her teammates. Overall, I love playing with her because I’ve built a special bond with her. I’ve gotten to know her as a teammate and a friend.”

Classmate Amanda Menes, ?14,? praises Madison for her passion and dedication of the sport. Menes says that watching Madison since seventh grade gave her motivation to pursue her career as a dancer as well.

“As long as I have known Annaleah, I have always admired her passion and dedication she has towards volleyball,” Menes said. “She has always had the ambition to becoming better and her love for what she does keeps growing and growing. She is a very talented player and she always pushes through injuries and plays out on the court. So just watching her gives me a motivation to pursue my passion as well.”

Due to her passion and talent, Madison plans on continuing her volleyball career after high school.

“Playing volleyball at Fresno Pacific University is definitely an option,” Madison said. “I would love to play in college, because I have been playing for such a long time that it would not make sense if I quit after high school. I know that it will be hard playing at a college level, but I believe that I can do it if I am willing to push myself.”

Madison’s mother Marianne says that she enjoys watching her daughter playing volleyball.

“I enjoy watching her play and whack the ball over the net,” Marianne said. “It?s good character building for Annaleah and an opportunity to represent our Lord in a positive way.”

According to Madison, she plans on having fun on the court. She believes that it is crucial to remember she is playing for God, not for anyone else.

“I am going to enjoy this year,” Madison said. “I was really competitive last year and forgot to have fun. So I am just going to relax and have fun on the court and remember who I am playing for.”

For more information, read the Sept. 6 article, Volleyball sport shorts: Non-league games.

For more features, check out Aug. 29 article, Graduate returns to FC, assumes new role.

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    Celeste CamachoAug 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Awh it’s Jenna! I hear she has quite the throwing arm!

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