Let me give you some background on myself. I’m Mady Fagan, and I just finished my sophomore year at the University of Georgia. I am a native Californian who chose to come to UGA to be a part of their tremendous track and field program. I struggled through last year in a number of ways – mainly in my sport: high jump. By the end of the year I felt beaten down and a little hopeless at times. I decided that was not going to be the end of my story.
Last time I wrote for The Wish Dish, I opened up about my struggle with anxiety. I wrote about how it affects me in my day to day life as well as in my sport. I vowed that I would make use of the “second chance” I was given. By second chance, I was referring to a change in coaching staff, meaning a fresh start for me.
I wrote that I would “do what I came across the country to do”. A lot has changed since my last publication, but a lot hasn’t. I still struggle with relentless anxiety and a hyperactive brain, but now I can cope with it. I spent the past year, yes, getting stronger physically but more importantly, getting stronger mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Last year someone who I thought I looked up to was telling me I would never be a successful athlete again. I was devastated – to say the least- because I believed him for a brief period of time. It took a lot for me to decide that he was wrong about me.
This year I am an SEC champion, NCAA runner up, and a USA Olympic Trials finalist.
I jumped eight inches higher this year than I did last year. The crazy thing? I’m grateful for my failure. I’m even happy with my ADHD brain because my struggle last year humbled me beyond belief, brought me closer to God, and showed me that nothing is promised. Everything is earned.
Going from nothing to something lead me to believe that I was never “nothing”. Everything I am now has always been inside me. I just had to dig it out.
Yes, at some points I would feel devastated at the thought of giving up the sport that I love, but those moments lead me to my growth. It was the rudest awakening I had ever received, and I really needed to receive it. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that person who told me I couldn’t do it.
Because of him I decided to put time and work into myself. I decided that I would work my butt off the entire off season. I would practice meditation for my anxious mind. I would listen to everything my new coach said. I would make changes to my diet and to my sleep habits. I would give every single workout my all. I would take the time to talk to my sports psychologist and really be present. I would grunt and struggle in the weight room at six in the morning.
Here’s how I saw it: if I do everything I can and work as hard as I can to reach my goal, and I still don’t succeed, at least I know I gave it everything I had.
During the offseason (Fall 2015) I was blindly marching on, just hoping all the work was benefitting me. The physical grind was brutal, but the mental one was fiercer. There was a battle within me to finally gain my confidence back after it being wrecked from my freshman year. The process was filled with tears and fist clenching frustration, but I just kept working.
Nothing about it was easy, but everything about it was worth it. There’s nothing special about what I did. All I did was work really hard in multiple areas of my life, and I began to see the results. Although I was working harder for a longer period of time in practice, my social life and academic standings improved.
I was exhausted and worn out by the time I got home, but I felt more motivated than ever and ended up making the SEC and athletic director’s Academic Honor Role. I’m still no Olympian or world champion, but I am proud of myself for how far I have come.
I’m not satisfied, but I am appreciative. I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be. I’m extremely lucky to have to the privilege of training with athletes like Keturah Orji and Levern Spencer – who are not only my friends but are also currently in Rio getting ready to jump at the Olympics. The people I train with motivate me to think beyond the SEC, beyond the NCAA, and beyond the United States.
Last year I never said to myself “I’m gonna go win an SEC championship.” I just kept working. So this year I will do the same but better. I know I wouldn’t be here without all the blessings I have in my life especially my family, teammates, coaches, and friends. I got my wings back by staying grounded this year.
If you missed the first chapter to Mady’s story, please check it out here: