Bennett finds comfort in family, friends, teammates
INDIANOLA — For nearly two decades, Madi Bennett has based much of her life around softball.
That was taken away from the former Fort Dodge Senior High standout when the decision was made to cancel the remaining Simpson College softball schedule.
In an effort to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the NCAA ruled to scrap remaining games and championships at all levels for spring sports. For Bennett, that closed the book on what was to be her senior season.
“To describe the way I initially felt, devastated would be an understatement,” Bennett said. “I thought of the last 18 years of my life being dedicated to playing softball and thought how big of a waste they were. This was the biggest season of my life, and I felt like all of my preparation had come down to this final season.
“I was playing the best softball of my entire life and I feel like I was finally becoming the leader I have always wanted to be.”
A phone call from her former Dodger coach, Andi Adams, helped settle her down.
“After I finally gathered myself a little bit, I looked down at my phone and was getting a call from Coach Adams,” she recalled. “Instantly, I knew I would start crying again. I don’t know how she does it, but she always has the right words to say. ‘You will get through this. It’s just another chapter of your story, and it will make you stronger in the end. All of this time you have put into this sport has made you into the person you are today.’ She put everything into perspective, and I knew I was going to be okay.”
A three-year letterwinner for the Storm, Bennett was preparing to play in a tournament in Florida when the decision was made. Simpson finished 21-19 last year with Bennett recording 19 hits and driving in 13 runs.
Just two other seniors were on the roster for Simpson this year besides Bennett in Kasiah Brown and Emily Schlike. Former Algona standout Brooke Fonley and Southeast Valley grad Morgan Castenson were also on the team as underclassmen.
“Senior season is supposed to be the most memorable, greatest year of an athletes career,” Bennett said. “The fact that I won’t get this opportunity breaks my heart into pieces. However, I have the best support system in the entire world. I had calls right away from all of my family members, teammates texting me and my friends checking to see if I was okay.
“This was the only thing that got me through that tough day. Knowing the impact I had on my family, teammates, coaches and friends was so comforting and reminded me of the real reason I ever began to play this sport. I played it because I absolutely loved it and the people it surrounded me with. This sport taught me how to truly be a leader and how to handle failure as a team. The relationships I gained throughout my entire softball career have absolutely changed my life for the better, and for that, I am more thankful than I can express.”
For her career, Bennett played in 104 games for the Storm, registering 60 hits, 15 doubles, 33 RBI, 17 runs and drawing 21 walks. She hit two home runs and also had a triple, all while maintaining a .973 fielding percentage with just 10 errors in almost 400 chances.
“The growth I have made in the last four years at Simpson College is exactly what I hoped would come out of my collegiate years,” she said. “I have met some amazing people who have molded me into the person I am today. There were some major struggles during this journey, but there were so many more gratifying, truly happy moments.
“The way I will best remember Simpson softball is not the wins, catches or hits, but the deep emotion and unforgettable memories I made with some truly amazing people. There were some late nights, deep talks and long hugs with these people. They weren’t just teammates or coaches, but they were my family, and they will be for the rest of my life.”
Bennett could seek out another year of eligibility through the NCAA’s decision, but she also has interviews scheduled for podiatric medical school.
“I am excited for this opportunity (with podiatric medical school),” Bennett said. “However, there’s a huge part of me that cannot fathom the thought of letting go of the sport that got me through every single hardship of my life. I know everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to, and I will make the best decision for me.”