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Clark Commits

Multi-sport athlete Madison Clark chooses to play softball at Nevada

'I just never really imagined going D1' – Madison Clark

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Multi-sport athlete Madison Clark chooses to play softball at Nevada

Madison Clark’s athletic journey began when she was only four years old. Since then, the Calaveras High School senior has participated in gymnastics, track and field, and played soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball and football.

Regardless of what age or at which levels she was playing, Clark was typically the best athlete on the field or court. She knew from a young age that no matter what she did in life, sports were always going to be a part of it.

“My parents signed me up for soccer when I was four, and I absolutely loved it,” Clark said. “I was really competitive, and that’s what kept me going. They put me in T-ball when I was four, and that was the only time I ever stopped playing or quit during the season, and that’s because it wasn’t competitive enough for me. The kids didn’t know how to hit the ball off the tee, and that’s when I knew that I wanted to go far in sports.”

For years, Clark had the problem of not being able to play all the sports she wanted to play. Now, Clark had to make one of the more difficult decisions of her young life. Instead of trying to figure out a way to play as many sports as possible, Clark had to dwindle it down to one.

Clark decided that her future would be on the softball diamond. On Nov. 10, Clark officially put pen to paper and committed to continue her softball career at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“It was both an athletic and academic decision,” Clark said about why she chose Nevada.

“The campus is beautiful; I love the coach, and it has the academics that I need.”

There are a number of reasons why Clark decided Nevada would be her home for the next four years. One of them is because she wants to become a veterinarian, and Nevada will help guide her through that journey. And athletically, the short distance from the school to her home was another positive reason to attend Nevada. Not only will her parents and family members be able to see home games, but Nevada plays a number of games in Northern California.

“When choosing a school, I wanted to pick a place where my parents could come out and watch, and my sisters could also come and watch,” Clark said. “And I’m close enough to home, so I can come home and watch my sisters play in their sports, too.”

Multi-sport athlete Madison Clark chooses to play softball at Nevada

While at Calaveras, Clark has played volleyball, basketball, softball and ran track. But it wasn’t until COVID-19 shut down her sophomore season of softball and limited the number of games her junior year that she came to the realization that softball was the sport she longed for the most.

“When Covid happened, that’s when I was able to make my decision,” Clark said. “That’s when I realized I’d rather go outside and hit a ball off the tee or work on my ground balls, rather than go and shoot baskets.”

But when it came to being a division I athlete, that was something Clark only dreamed of.

“I just never really imagined going D1,” Clark said. “When the time finally came, I was pretty surprised.”

Nevada head coach Linda Garza knows what kind of player she has coming her way with Clark and is thrilled to eventually see her in a Wolf Pack uniform.

“Madison plays the game hard, fast and right,” Garza said. “Her energy is contagious, and she makes players around her better by setting a standard for how the team works.”

Multi-sport athlete Madison Clark chooses to play softball at Nevada

Even though Clark has made the decision to dedicate her athletic life to softball, that doesn’t mean she won’t miss playing all the other sports.

“It’s going to be very tough,” Clark said. “I’ve always played multiple sports. Hopefully, I’ll be able to play in some pickup basketball games, or play beach volleyball at Lake Tahoe, or just find some way to play other sports during the offseason.”

Clark has been a varsity softball player all four years at Calaveras. As a freshman, she was a Mother Lode League first-team member. And as a junior, Clark was named as the Most Valuable Player of the league. In her three years at Calaveras, Clark has only played in 51 games. But in those games, she has recorded 99 hits, 47 RBIs, scored 93 runs, hit for an average of .566 with an on-base percentage of .586 with nine doubles, eight triples, seven home runs and 46 stolen bases.

Clark joins a long list of Calaveras softball players to continue their careers at the collegiate level, which includes 2021 graduate Angelina DeLeon, who is in her freshman year at the University of Mississippi.

“We’ve always had a strong softball program and I think it’s so cool that we’ve all gone to big places,” Clark said. “People underestimate us so much. It’s, ‘We are playing Calaveras; where is that?’ Then we show up, and they weren’t expecting a team like us.”

Multi-sport athlete Madison Clark chooses to play softball at Nevada

At Calaveras, Clark has played in the outfield and most recently at second base. She has hit at the top of the lineup, but could be slated anywhere and find a way to reach base. While she is unsure where she will play at Nevada, Clark just wants to get on the field and make a difference.

“I don’t care where they play me,” Clark said. “My goal is to hopefully start as a freshman, whether that’s some place I’ve never played, or somewhere I’m used to, I’m willing to adapt to whatever so I can be on the field and win.”

When asked what Garza’s expectations were for Clark not only as a freshman but all four years at Nevada, Garza said, “To lead within, get on base often, steal bases, set the tone and score runs. She has a steady glove, is versatile and plays the game with a high softball IQ.”

Clark agreed to attend Nevada officially only a few days after her senior volleyball season ended. She was a second-team all-league volleyball player. Now Clark is getting ready for her final basketball season at Calaveras. With worrying about college off the table, Clark can now enjoy her last basketball and softball season as a high school athlete.

“I’m excited to have it done with, and I don’t have to stress about it,” Clark said. “The only thing I need to worry about with my body is not getting hurt and getting stronger.”

Clark has been playing sports all her life and has yet to grow tired of the grind. There have been plenty of college athletes who can’t complete their four years because of getting burnt out. Clark doesn’t see that as an issue and is grateful for every day she will get to have as a college softball player.

“The more I think about it, I’m not too worried,” Clark said. “I basically get four more years, and then that’s it. I’m excited to have those four more years.”

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