by Tyler Roaix
As Central finished up its season falling to LIU Brooklyn in the NEC Championship, the entire team was overcome with emotion. But one player brings a feeling of stability and strength, despite knowing she has played her final volleyball match in a Blue Devil uniform: senior Maddie Smith.
Smith is originally from Pleasanton, California, which is near San Francisco. Smith was first reached out to via email by assistant coach Greg Shell. Central head coach Linda Sagnelli later approached her at a travel tournament in Las Vegas. From there, the decision to come to CCSU was not that difficult.
But the move to Connecticut was tough at first for Smith. Coming across the country by herself was a tough adjustment. But the team and school made life easier on her.
“Coming here, I didn’t have any family. Everyone was back home. So the coaching staff and team really became my family. It was definitely an adjustment at first, but they took me in with open arms.”
Off the volleyball court, Smith has been a model student in the classroom as well. Despite being a double-major in in Marketing and Management, Smith downplayed the expected difficulties of the work, citing how the two majors share a lot of similar classes. Still, Smith has been recognized as a member of the Northeast Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll the past two years.
Sagnelli was grateful of what Smith has brought to the volleyball program, both as a player and a person, highlighting her consistency and leadership on and off the court.
“The growth I’ve seen in Maddie over the past four years has been remarkable,” Sagnelli shared. “She is a great player, but more importantly a great person. She cares about her teammates. She has been a phenomenal representative of CCSU, and a great model for the younger players to look up to.”
Smith ends a career highlighted by a senior year for the record books for the Blue Devils. 161 total blocks this year are second-most in a single season and are just two fewer than Rachel Dunlap’s 2013 total. Smith’s 14 blocks against Sacred Heart on Nov. 3 of this year are tied for the most in a single match for Central.
Smith also had a .377 hitting percentage in 2017, just .001 behind Jennifer Cote’s 2004 season for the best in a single season for Central.
Despite her volleyball career coming to a close, Smith plans to remain involved in CCSU athletics. She remains an active member as the Vice President of the CCSU Student Athlete Advisory Committee, also known as SAAC. She will also be an intern within the athletic department in the spring semester, which she said she is excited to learn from several of the leadership members in the department.
Smith hopes to eventually move back home to California soon. Her end goal is a career in Sports Management.
“She is very bright,” Sagnelli said of Smith. “She will be successful in whatever she does after leaving Central. It has been such a pleasure to know her.”
Smith offered a piece of advice to younger players and students.
“Soak it all in. Those four years are going to go by faster than you think. I still can’t believe I’m in my last year, that I won’t be at spring workouts next semester. It goes by so quick it almost doesn’t feel real. So enjoy the time as much as you can while you’re here.”
Smith’s career will last in the CCSU record books for years. But her presence and leadership have created a lasting effect on the team, program and school that may never go away.