Mady McDermott comes right at you.
Whether it’s running, jumping or pole vaulting, the Wayne Valley senior has a zest for athletics and multiple entertaining stories about her career.
That career hit a peak in the Big North Championships as McDermott (her given name is Madelyn, but not a lot of people call her that) won four events: the pole vault, high jump, long jump and triple jump.
“I like trying everything,” she said. “Water skiing. I surf. I like to regular ski on snow. I roller blade, I ice skate. I love trying new things.”
McDermott grew up a gymnast, but stepped back from that sport around seventh grade.
She got hooked on field hockey after attending a clinic in Wayne with some friends.
At a later field hockey camp, she was playing defense. She blocked a ball from going into the cage with her stick, and poof, a goalie was born.
At 5-foot-5 with skinny arms (her words), McDermott was quite a sight as a field hockey goalie, but she loved every minute of it, playing for four years for Wayne Valley.
“I have photos that will haunt me forever,” McDermott laughed.
The only thing she really knew about track was that it involved running, still – always game – McDermott went out for the sport freshman year. She did sprints and some jumping. That spring, she was introduced to the pole vault.
She still remembers clearing six feet for the first time and being thrilled. She has steadily improved and guarantees that she will break the school record of 9-foot-6.
“I will go on record,” McDermott said. “I am going to break the record. I am not leaving high school without breaking the record.”
Freshman year was also the year McDermott was involved in a collision at Penn Relays while warming up. It’s another story she loves. The Indians were practicing their handoffs in a field while getting ready for their race. McDermott took the baton, saw another girl standing in her path, veered off – directly into someone coming the opposite way.
“We slammed into each other full speed, I landed on my back, she did a flip mid-air – a flip,” McDermott said.
Neither girl was injured, more embarrassed than anything else. Then it was time to enter Franklin Field, so she took her spot as the third person in the relay, looks over and sees, of all people, the girl she collided with next to her, running the same leg.
“I avoided all eye contact,” McDermott said.
She never did find out the girl’s name but believes there may be some cosmic force that could bring them together again.
“I just know I will be somewhere and telling that story and the girl will be there and say, ‘hey, that happened to me!” McDermott said. “I sometimes get this phantom pain in my ribs and think it’s because of some girl’s head.”
McDermott is still finalizing her college decision. Her goal in life is to be a vet. She grew up with dogs – Mickey was the first beloved animal. He made it until he was 17 and was an inspiration to her how he stayed active. Now she has Bear, a mutt. He’s fun too.
“I’ve had animals in my life forever and seeing how much they helped me and were there for me over the years, I kind of want to pay that back,” McDermott said.
Sport: Track and field
School: Wayne Valley
Class: Senior. Age: 17
Accomplishment: Won four different events for Wayne Valley at the Big North winter track championships.
Also nominated: Meghan Heaney of Dumont, Elizabeth Argenziano of Demarest, and Camellia Brown of Westwood for basketball; Lucia Rabolli of Ridgewood and Remy Dubac of Clifton for track and field; and Katie Lawrence of Indian Hills for swimming.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Bergen Female Athlete of the WeeK: Mady McDermott, Wayne Valley