Sophomore never gave up on her dream to play for the Lady Jackets
By Tim Miller
Women’s basketball player Allison Mader had a fantasy from a young age to attend Cedarville University and play for the Lady Jackets. Growing up just 45 minutes from campus, she said she knew of the school and knew she wanted to be here.
“That was always a dream of mine,” said Mader, a sophomore. “Cedarville was where I wanted to go from the very beginning.”
But although her dream likely included a quick offer, stress-free recruitment, and decision wrapped up before she could hit the snooze button, Mader’s process included relentless prayers and laying awake night after night not knowing if she’d ever receive an offer from head coach Kari Hoffman’s staff.
The story begins in her sophomore year at Tippecanoe High School, where Mader connected with assistant coach John Leonzo for the first time. Mader had come to basketball camps hosted by Cedarville and found out there was some interest from the Lady Jackets.
However, she was informed that there were a couple girls ahead of her in the race for a scholarship offer.
The chance to visit Cedarville multiple times and have a taste of the program, yet not knowing she would be able to savor it in the future, was agonizing. She said by watching the Lady Jackets practice and play, she could tell the team was different. And she wanted a part in it.
“Literally every single time I visited here, the team had such an impact on me,” Mader said. “I was like, wow, those girls are awesome.”
She had even connected with now senior basketball player Abby Wolford. After watching Wolford in practices and interacting with her at summer camps, Mader said Wolford had a huge impact on her desire to come to the cornfields.
“The way she carried the team was so obvious,” Mader said. “I looked at my dad and told him that’s what a real leader looks like. She always went out of her way to talk to me and ask how my season was going.”
And while texts were exchanged off and on by Wolford and Mader, the high school prospect still needed an offer. In the summer of her junior year, Hoffman asked Mader to attend Cedarville’s elite camp in late June.
Mader was told this camp would go a long way in the coaching staff’s evaluation process. Although she felt happy about the way she played during the camp, Mader revealed the coaching staff didn’t see enough from her.
Hoffman mentioned reservations regarding her fundamentals. Mader, though emotional, was able to hold it together during the conversation. Her goal was to make a college decision by July, and the bad news set her back.
Even with the setback, Mader said she felt at peace. She had been praying that God would show her the place He prepared for her, but even without the answer, she persevered in her prayers.
When she got home Mader was invited to a four-day church camp. She obliged, but felt her peace was suddenly fading. Even after being surrounded by hundreds of other high schoolers in worship, Mader rapidly spun to a sense of confusion.
Searching for an answer, Mader continued to press into a consistent pattern of prayer. She emphasized that even during a time when it seemed impossible for her to end up at Cedarville, the only way she’d play for the Lady Jackets is if God allowed it.
Meanwhile, Hoffman and Leonzo conversed back at Cedarville. As they talked back and forth, Hoffman said she remembered Mader’s name continued to come up. She said Mader checked all the boxes, and that the staff decided it was time to pull the trigger.
“There comes a point in recruiting where you just need to make a decision,” Hoffman said. “Sometimes conversations just keep landing on the same name. She checked all the boxes, so we said why not?”
Mader rode the bus back home with her youth group, still feeling unsettled. Her prayers for God to open a door didn’t stop, however.
When she hopped in the car as her mom picked her up, she saw she had a missed call from Hoffman. She waited until she got home and walked to her room to make what she figured could be a fateful call.
Mader said the breakthrough of an offer could only be attributed to God. With Cedarville sitting at the top of Mader’s list of schools, it didn’t take long for her to commit.
“This had nothing to do with me,” Mader said. “It took everything in me not to cry, not because I had been offered, but because I had experienced the power of God in my life and the power of prayer.”
Although her freshman season left plenty to be desired for Mader as she played in 15 of the team’s 30 games, she said she was supplied with peace from God during the year, as she knew Cedarville was the place where she was supposed to be.
This season Mader is a strong contributor off the bench. She said wearing a Lady Jackets uniform and being a part of the team has been nothing less than a blessing. She continues to play with a fierce mindset, knowing God has her here for a reason, and that there’s nothing to fear.
Now, Hoffman says it’s been a dream having Mader in the program. She says her favorite thing about her is that she’s a spiritual leader and someone her teammates look up to.
“She is a leader and she doesn’t say many words,” Hoffman said. “She exemplifies so much of what our program is about, and we would have missed out greatly if we didn’t recruit her.”
Tim Miller is a senior Marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about health insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.