- Maddie Smith will head to Madison to play volleyball in the fall.She will be the first volleyball player from Northland Pines to play for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Maddie first played volleyball during an intramural game in seventh grade. But she didn't enjoy the experience. "No, I did not like it," Smith said with a laugh.But in high school Maddie realized that her mother played Division I volleyball for the Wisconsin Badgers."I realized that my mom played for a big volleyball team and I was like, 'This is pretty cool," Maddie said. "I actually started to engage in it, and I finally caught on and was like, 'This is fun.' So I just kept with it and joined club and just got better and better."Maddie may have lost some of her passion for the game in the last few seasons because Northland Pines went three years without a win in the Great Northern Conference. Her first year on the team, as a sophomore, the Eagles went 0-12 in conference.Then Maddie's mom, Julie Smith, became the coach and last fall the team won seven conference games. "We ended up taking third in conference, so we made a huge jump," said Maddie.Now Maddie will play in Madison as a walk on for one of the best programs in the country."I'm really excited to go to Madison, I can't even explain it," Maddie said. "I feel like it's a major accomplishment for myself to be able to be a part of the fourth-[ranked] volleyball team in the nation."According to Julie, Maddie wanted to play at Wisconsin since she started to take volleyball seriously her sophomore year. "Since her sophomore year, she's just had this dream to play for Wisconsin," Julie said. "As a mom, as we got closer to that point in her senior year, I wanted to develop a backup plan for her, but she said, 'Mom, I'm going to play for Wisconsin."Julie started as a walk-on the Wisconsin volleyball team too, eventually earning a scholarship.It's Maddie's goal to earn a scholarship eventually too, just like her mother.
Story By: Nolan Blair