By Ben Robinson
PLEASANT HILL — Competition is a way of life for Madison Mollette, who is the daughter of James and Tina Mollette of Pleasant Hill.
Which makes it no surprise the senior from Newton High School chose to extend her softball career while pursuing her education at the University of Findlay.
“My entire family is competitive, and sports has always been a big part of our lives,” Mollette said. “I’ve played sports my entire life, and I look forward to playing at Findlay.”
Mollette has been very active over her high school career at Newton as she has earned an amazing 15 varsity letters in volleyball, basketball, softball and cheerleading. In addition, she has been Academic All-CCC 15 times, as well.
“Maddie has put in a lot of time in all of her sports and activities,” said her mother Tina. “All of the sports have helped her in softball — it’s made her stronger and more athletic.”
Mollette could have chosen to continue playing volleyball or basketball in college, but she chose her first love, softball.
“I’ve been playing softball since I was five and was fortunate enough to have my mom as one of my coaches every year,” she said. “She’s my best friend, and we were able to experience it together.”
And even with her mother as one of her coaches, Madison never felt pressure from home to focus on one sport over another.
“My parents let me make my own decisions and didn’t push me to play one sport over another sport,” she said. “My parents, my entire family for that matter, supported me every step of the way in whatever I chose to do.”
It’s very apparent Mollette had plenty of support due to the amount of people who attended her signing in the spring — from her family, friends, coaches and teammates.
“This community had a very significant impact on Maddie and our entire family,” said Mollette’s father, James. “She’s had some great coaches over the years with Kirk Kadel and Mark Gibson, and she’s had some great teammates. She wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for this school and community.”
Recently retired coach Kirk Kadel knows talent and he knew a long time ago Mollette would one day become a collegiate softball player.
“Coach Kadel made me believe in myself,” Madison said. “I remember when I was maybe in eighth grade or a freshman he told me one day I would play in college. I’ve never forgotten that, and he was right.”
Mark Gibson, the current head softball coach at Newton, also felt Madison had unbelievable potential at a young age.
“Her leadership qualities were apparent right away,” he said. “She’s so driven, a perfectionist who pushes herself and her teammates to get better. From her freshman year to now, to see her grow as a player. I always saw her as a complete athlete.”
And Gibson feels Mollette’s competitive drive and athleticism will give her an advantage at the next level.
“Here competitive drive is unmatched, in my opinion,” he said. “And she’s so athletic — they can put her just about anywhere on the field and she’s driven enough to succeed. I know it’s hard for freshmen in college, but I think she’ll emerge pretty quickly.”
Findlay’s softball coach Danielle Lowe is very familiar with Mollette’s softball talent and had her sights set on the Newton standout for some time.
“She recruited Maddie when she coached at Urbana,” said James. “When she got the job at Findlay, she continued to recruit Maddie pretty hard, so we knew she liked her.”
And the feeling was mutual when Mollette went to a camp at Findlay.
“When I went to the camp and practiced with them, I really liked it,” Madison said. “Then when I went for my official visit, I pretty much knew Findlay was where I wanted to go.”
To make her decision easier, Findlay put together a great financial package with a combination of athletic and academic scholarships.
“She received a nice athletic scholarship, but most of it was for academics,” Tina said. “Without her academics, the financial package wouldn’t have been nearly as good as the one she received.”
As driven as Madison is in the athletic arena, she’s even more driven in the classroom, which is evident by her 3.975 GPA, her selection as Class Salutatorian, and her induction into the National Honor Society.
“As much as we enjoy athletics as a family, academics has always been a higher priority,” Tina continued. “Maddie has taken her academics seriously and that’s ultimately why she has this opportunity at Findlay.”
Madison had opportunities to choose from several schools, but chose Findlay due to its physical therapy program.
“They really have an excellent physical therapy program and that’s the primary reason I chose Findlay,” she said. “It’s a bonus they have a good softball program and it’s close to home. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.”