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You Never Know How Life Will Change For This Centre College Swimmer

By: Larry Vaught

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DANVILLE, Ky. – She came to Centre College planning to become a physical therapist. Now junior Maddie Hall has a different career goal as she wants to be an event planner, something she’s already doing for Kappa Delta, her college sorority.

“I am very much a people person and love to be out talking and getting to know people,” said Hall, who is also a talented member of Centre’s swim team. “Event planning is just something I have always been interested in. I hope to get a following and become an event coordinator. Hopefully I will eventually own my own business.”

She spent most of the summer working as a marketing and employer relations intern with the Centre professional development office. She enjoyed the strategic planning, communication and deadlines before “seeing things come to life” during her virtual internship.

“I had a set number of hours to work but they were flexible and worked a lot in the evenings all summer,” Hall, who lives in Louisville, said.

She would contact companies to gauge their interest in having a Centre College intern and also spend time trying to help Centre students connect with the right company.

“I would help hone whether they (students) wanted an internship or job, what location, part time or full time. It was a great platform to connect with employers.”

She was also in charge of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts for the development office where she created graphics and more for social media posts to increase awareness for different events the college was hosting.

“I was able to use a lot of my creativity and ingenuity,” Hall said. “It was really interesting to try and  think new ways to get students involved.”

That even included a scavenger hunt where students had to follow five or more Centre College social media accounts and comment on posts to get information.

hallHall was head swim coach at Louisville Country Club. She had taught swim lessons there before but this was her first  summer as head coach.

“It was something that was really fun to do and help children enhance their swimming skills to help keep them healthy,” she said.

Because of COVID-19 issues, the swim season didn’t start until early July and ended in mid-August. She knew early traditional swim meets with hundreds of competitors and spectators would not happen. Instead, the team held intrasquad meets swimmers ages 2-13 still enjoyed.

“I had to wear a face shield when I was in the water instructing,” Hall said. “That was hard, especially with little kids that like to see your face and expressions when you are talking to them but water splashes up and fogs up the mask. It was hard to communicate but we worked it out and just repeated ourselves a lot more to help them.”

Hall thought this could be a banner season for her and Centre swimming. She barely missed a school record last year in the 200-meter breaststroke by two-tenths of a second. She also swims the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley along with various relays.

“The team dynamic here at Centre is so good and really helped my confidence. I am a completely different swimmer now,” Hall, who was part of a powerhouse high school program at Sacred Heart, said. “It feels great in the pool now. We’re just not in competition mode.”

That’s because like other sports at Centre, the swim season is on hold until at least January when Hall hopes there will be a way to have meets even if it means having the women’s team go compete at separate times and locations from the men’s team. She hopes there will be some virtual meets the next two months where a mobile app will be used to compare times and determine places with teams competing in their own pools rather than in one location.

“I wouldn’t have my top competitor in the lane next to me, but it would still be awesome to just get a chance to compete. Swimming is more of an individual sport, so I think we can make that work,” Hall said.

The junior has already adjusted her thinking to a COVID-19 delayed season.

“Where I thought I would have two years to work on getting the record, now it could be narrowed down if we are not able to have a spring season or virtual meets,” Hall said. “That would put a lot of pressure on my senior season.

“It’s all been kind of stressful but it has also made me not just take swimming for granted. Right now I have to be very self motivated, doing workouts, eating right, taking care of my body and running so I am in shape, so when I am in the  pool I am mentally ready to go and hopefully in shape.”

Life on campus has been difficult for the outgoing Hall as well. She’s thankful for the planned social time even when exercising with friends on the swim team and knowing she can see them in a safe environment.

“I have had to work harder to reach out to other friends and plan safe activities,” Hall said.

She’s tried to find a way to have lunch and/or dinner with friends rather than always eating in her house.

“It was easy after the heavy quarantine time in March to become very introverted,” Hall said. “That’s not me. I am very, very outgoing. I go to activities Centre puts on safely during weekends and appreciate what the college has done to try and keep us all safe. But I miss seeing friends even if I know why I can’t be out seeing them.”

Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught is a seven-time winner of the Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year award and has covered University of Kentucky sports since 1975. Larry now has a syndicated UK sports column appearing in 34 newspapers across the state as well as http://www.yoursportsedge.com/, and http://www.cameronmillsradio.com/. Larry also joins Mark Buerger and Anthony White on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports each week in Lexington as well as appearing each Tuesday with Tom Leach on The Leach Report.

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