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More Than An Athlete: Nothing too much to handle

Posted: June 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Though softball was her first sport, Saugus junior Casey Madsen started playing volleyball after a friend talked her into it. She hasn’t looked back since. Though softball was her first sport, Saugus junior Casey Madsen started playing volleyball after a friend talked her into it. She hasn’t looked back since.
Though softball was her first sport, Saugus junior Casey Madsen started playing volleyball after a friend talked her into it. She hasn’t looked back since.

There have been times that Casey Madsen has felt overwhelmed with responsibilities.

Between sports, school and extracurricular activities, she’s often hard-pressed for time.

Sometimes, if she has a moment, she’ll pull out her violin and play — giving her a brief respite from the multitude of events on her schedule.

But that’s not always an option; so it’s often a saying she carries around with her on her notebook that helps her keep it all in perspective — “Stop complaining. You signed up for it,” it reads.

Signing up for things is something the 16-year-old Madsen has always been quick to do.

She’s not sure of the quotes’ origin, but she sure embodies its sentiment.

When she was in the second grade, a viewing of “Peter and the Wolf” prompted her curiosity in the violin.

So the Saugus junior decided she ought to learn how to play.

When a friend told her about an opening in her Girl Scouts troop, she decided to join.

And, though she grew up playing softball, when another friend tried to convince her she should play on the high school volleyball team, she decided to give it a try.

“I had a lot of interests growing up, and I pursued many of them, and I found that I really liked them,” Madsen says. “And I knew I needed to find a way to make it all work if I wanted to maintain growing as a person, and doing whatever made me happy.”

So she took to the softball fields and volleyball courts. She signed up for AP classes, joined clubs and became involved with the Girl Scouts — always striving to be the best at everything she tried.

“It’s unbelievable,” says Saugus head volleyball coach Zach Ambrose. “She puts just as much energy in practice as she does in games, as well as in school and multiple volunteer activities. She is the first one to volunteer for any kind of duty. It doesn’t matter what it is.”

That was evident last year, when Madsen received the highest award in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, for a school cleanup project she organized at a local elementary school.

The project, entitled “The Beautification of James Foster Elementary School,” included cleaning the campus, renovating the playground, striping and repainting, and weeding the planters and hills.

Madsen solicited the help of the local community, encouraging about 80 volunteers to join in the project.

“It was amazing as a parent to watch the growth,” says her mother, Patty Madsen. “And many times when I’m telling someone about it, I choke up. We kind of forget (Casey’s age), and when we take a step back and think about it, it’s like, ‘wow.’ She just does it.”

In January, Madsen was chosen, along with five of her troopmates, to walk in the 2012 Rose Parade — something that required mandatory practices, further adding to her already-full schedule.

But again, she didn’t complain, even shuffling from practice to a Saugus High volleyball playoff game on one occasion.
In addition to the Saugus varsity team, she also plays club volleyball for Los Angeles Volleyball Academy’s North team, and is a skilled libero and defensive specialist.

“The biggest positive for Casey is she, as a coach, I want her on the court at all times for her leadership, for her encouraging of her teammates,” says her club coach Kristin Gorman. “Qualities for how hard she works and for her skill.”

But at Saugus this season, with a talented senior class, her impact was felt more on the practice court ­— again, something she never complained about.

”It is unique. You don’t always see that because kids want to get in and play,” Ambrose says. “And anyone who’s competitive won’t be happy not getting the playing time. But it’s how they direct that and not make it about anger, but about drive and doing what you can for the team. And she was able to always put a positive direction on it, and she was one of the loudest on the bench.”

In between volleyball and Girl Scouts, Madsen has still had to find time for academics — the item on her agenda that she says is most important to her.

Enrolled in three AP classes her junior year — language and composition, chemistry and calculus — Madsen carried a 4.5 GPA.

“It’s a challenge sometimes,” Madsen says. “I have a lot of late nights, but I can’t seem to get a good night of sleep if I don’t finish everything that I need to that day.”

So she continues to work hard on a daily basis, sacrificing free time in exchange for success.

“I knew she was going to be a special person from the moment I met her,” says longtime friend Kayleigh Lau. “She has such a strong personality and she can handle herself in so many different situations, and I really admire that. I knew she would be successful. She’s so smart, she can easily handle herself in the world.”

And with one more year of high school remaining, Madsen has started thinking about the future.

She would love to attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo to study chemical engineering — something her chemistry classes have piqued her interest in.

And at this point, would anyone bet against her?

“I don’t like disappointing people so I try to do everything not to,” she says. “I don’t like knowing I could have done anything additional to get a job done.”

So she somehow finds the time and keeps on working — after all, she signed up for it.



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