Athlete Spotlight: Mount Everett's Madison Ullrich
BERKSHIRE EAGLE: We'll start first with the most relevant topic; obviously saw you two nights ago, you girls just finished off a 2-0 trip to Franklin Tech with their holiday tournament, how are you girls feeling after the start?
MADISON ULLRICH: We are feeling really good with two wins under our belt and PHS tomorrow [Monday]. We know it's going to be a tough game. I think if we play hard and play well, we should be able to get a couple more big wins.
EAGLE: It seems like you girls have a tough stretch coming up. How much does that help you girls, having these tough tests early on?
ULLRICH: It's definitely going to test us as a team and as individual players to then look down the road, making the tournament, those harder games — the beginning of the season is going to be to our advantage.
EAGLE: Anything special about the team this year? Seems that you girls have a group that's been through a lot together.
ULLRICH: The two other captains, I've played with Gwendolyn [Carpenter] since second grade and Marion DeVoti since third grade. We have six seniors this year, we all get along really well. And I play with my sister [Mackenzie], too, so that's always pretty cool having her.
EAGLE: What's the relationship like playing with your sister, and both of you starting?
ULLRICH: We definitely have our ups and downs. There are times where we yell at each other on the court, but later on we're fine.
EAGLE: Who is the toughest player you've had to guard?
ULLRICH: Jenna Benzinger, from Mount Greylock, when I was a freshman. She was a good 10 inches taller than I was.
EAGLE: I know that you are a multi-sport athlete, so I will open this one beyond basketball; what's the most memorable game you've ever played in?
ULLRICH: My eighth grade year, for soccer. Our starting goalie went out with a concussion and we were in the Western Mass. quarterfinals and went into PKs. I was in goal, and it was the scariest moment of my life. But we ended up winning the game. That was awesome.
EAGLE: Speaking of soccer, you set a new saves record at Mount Everett. How much did you enjoy playing goalie?
ULLRICH: It's a lot of fun. I've been in goal since U10. It's my position that I love. I throw my body at the ball, block the ball, it's awesome.
EAGLE: I asked you about the group of seniors and you have obviously had a lot of success and been through a lot, but ultimately have come up just short in a lot of Western Mass. finals and semifinals. Going into your last two seasons, what would it mean if you were able to bring home a Western Mass. crown?
ULLRICH: That's all we're looking for this year — to get back to UMass, win a championship. We have two more shots at it. I think, in both of these seasons, we have a pretty good chance. It would be awesome if we could do that.
EAGLE: At Mount Everett, when you come in and play varsity sports, those are the kids you are going to play with all the way through until you graduate; what's it been like with all of these seniors, year after year, sport after sport, playing with them all the time?
ULLRICH: It creates a stronger bond between all of us girls. Starting in seventh grade, playing with each other all the way up until now, senior year, we are that much closer. We know where each person is on the court without having to look. It's really cool, starting so young and working up.
EAGLE: Now, what comes next? What are you planning on doing come graduation in the spring?
ULLRICH: I enlisted in the Air Force, so I leave in July and I go to basic training in San Antonio, and go from there
EAGLE: First of all, congratulations. That's always a big commitment. What brought about the decision to enlist?
ULLRICH: It's really always been something that I've wanted to do. My dad was in, my uncles were in, my grandpa was in, I have a bunch of cousins in right now in different branches. It's always been something I wanted to do, giving back to my country.
EAGLE: Do you want to fly planes eventually?
ULLRICH: I don't know. The job that I got, I'm going to be on a plane, so I'll be flying and seeing different places a lot. But I don't know if I want to fly the planes.
EAGLE: A lot of people come in and I ask them about their favorite food and they give me a place in North Adams or Pittsfield or something like that; when I'm driving down to cover something in Sheffield, where's the best place to get something to eat?
ULLRICH: The Marketplace [in Sheffield].
EAGLE: What's your go-to?
ULLRICH: The Gus's Big Boy. It has peanut butter, strawberry jelly, strawberries, bacon, peanuts and sometimes peanut brittle.
EAGLE: Is there a particular moment from high school that sticks out for you that's not athletics?
ULLRICH: We have a lot of really good classes that we take, and this year I got to take the hiking class, Man in His Environment, and we hiked like 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts. Even though that was this year, that was by far the best piece that has stood out in my six years there.
EAGLE: Finally, you are coming out for your grand entrance for whatever, you get to pick a theme song to represent you; what is your theme song?
ULLRICH: Probably "Fight Song" [by Rachel Platten]. That's kind of an old song, but a go-to.
This interview was conducted, edited and condensed by Geoff Smith.
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