Sonya Hopper couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. Sonya’s daughter, Madison Hopper, was signing to attend Emmanuel College on Thursday afternoon and it brought them both to tears as Sonya spoke about Madison’s journey in front of a large crowd of family and friends.
“I am so proud of Madison. I am so proud of how hard she worked. A lot of people don’t know where she same from. She wasn’t a superstar softball player. She had to work to get what she got and I’m thankful for people that came into her life who believed in her. Like my uncle Greg (Cowan),” Sonya Hopper said.
Madison made up her mind that she wanted to pitch at the age of 13, a late start for anybody who wants to plays sports and be good at it.
“It was just something to do at first and I just loved it after that,” Madison said.
Current Rams softball coaches Greg Cowan and Ashley Coles started working with Madison when she decided she wanted to pitch, and it wasn’t easy.
“We started at 13, she was a whiney little girl, very strong but had a lot of potential,” Cowan said. “I told her mom then, ‘See it through, we’ll go to college.’ It was a hard road, but I had to teach to her discipline. She never had anybody get on her like I did. One night she was crying on the ball field and I think that was one of the turning points. She was really crying and I told her, ‘If you don’t dry it up now, you’re not going to make it.’”
“She’s come from being a girl that couldn’t even pick a ground ball up to a girl that could throw her glove down and (field) a ground ball. She’s a lot more mature, a lot stronger,” Cowan added. “She went from a kid that didn’t know softball to a kid that knows every play where to go with the ball now. Mentally and physically, she’s come a long way.”
Cowan’s tough love attitude and Cole’s pitching prowess have helped Madison to be where she is today, a future college softball player.
Sonya says she never thought Madison would be here when Madison was in the ninth grade. Sonya realized that Madison could go places the first time she saw her go up to a college coach and introduce herself.
“She kept working hard. The thing that I love most about her is her character and her willingness to not let anybody tear her down,” Sonya said.
“She showed a lot of character and leadership for us on the mound this year,” Heather Wood, Eastside head softball coach, said. “She’s a great kid, hard worker. She exemplifies everything we want from our softball players here at Eastside. We’re excited for her and we know she’ll go on to do great things at Emmanuel.”
Madison says that her new coach, Kacey Alexander, likes her bat and her pitching. Madison says that Alexander told her she can be a big part of the team.
Madison says, “I chose it because of the campus – I really love the campus. It’s smaller, so it’s going to be easier to learn there. Also, because of the coach. She’s a really big part of me and she really believes in me.”