Translation of talent
Childhood races pave way to SEC Championships
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 00:02
The kids on Jennifer Madu's street would scream a familiar, “Ready, set, go!” as she and the children from the houses lining the sidewalk would push their feet against the concrete. At an early age, Madu would find herself outside racing the kids in her neighborhood, the people riding by on bicycles, and even the cars driving past. Running came naturally to her.
Madu said even her childhood friends would tell her she was talented beyond the norm.
“They were like ‘Hey, you should definitely run track,’” Madu said. “But I really didn’t think anything of it.”
Madu's young talent grew during her middle school days when she first officially began running track.
“The girls and boys were out at practice and I was keeping up with the boys. People were like ‘What the heck, what are you doing?’” Madu said laughingly.
Everyone around her was astonished at how naturally fast she was. Madu became one of the fastest teenagers in her city, state and even the world. When it seemed her coaches could ask for no more, Madu still had more talents hidden up her sleeve.
Madu was a pinch runner her senior year for the Plano East high school softball team – at the time ranked No. 13 nationally.
Madu said she was simply being spontaneous her senior year when track season was over and decided to join the softball team.
"The softball girls told me that I should be a pinch runner for them when the track season was over,” Madu said. “So I got done with state, and when the softball team made state they told me to suit up.”
Madu was accustomed to running through the finish line and not having to come to a sudden halt, so Coach Kalhoefer gave her a few pointers: if she ever overruns a base, don't turn back — just beat the throw to the next one.
“I told her if she ran through a bag—since she’s used to running through things—to just go to the next one,” Kalhoefer said.
After being widely recruited, Madu had to choose where to take her talents for the 2012-2013 collegiate year. Madu said she chose Texas A&M over all the other schools because she knew she could trust the coaches.
“A&M was just a good balance for me,” Madu said. “It wasn’t too far from home, and they have good academics. I knew they had coaches I could trust, and I already knew a lot of people coming here so I knew I would feel comfortable. I just trusted that and went with it.”
Madu has not only excelled on the track at A&M, but in the classroom as well. She said her parents always remind her that she is a student first.
"It's nothing different from high school, they just say, ‘Stick with it, but remember that you're a student first,’” Madu said. “I have to stay on top of the grades so I can participate in athletics."
Madu finished third in the 60-meter final at the 2013 SEC Championships held Feb. 22-24 in Arkansas to help the women’s team match the men with a third-place finish.