Via is one of several nominees for this year's Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award.
Below is a feature story provided by FanWord.com about Madison Via, who is one of several nominees for this year's Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award.
The Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award recognizes the Liberty University senior student-athlete who has maintained an exemplary testimony on the playing field, in the classroom and among the student body. Click here for more information about the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award.
Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award web page: https://www.liberty.edu/flames/index.cfm?PID=37091
I never thought I'd leave my comfort zone.
It isn't easy to do, especially when you're the new face on campus. I might not remember much, but I remember that moment like it was yesterday—that first day in college and the small fish in a big pond feeling swirling around in the pit of my stomach.
Yes, I was the shy kid coming into Liberty University for my freshman year. There's nothing wrong with being shy as long as you don't allow it to be a hindrance or a fear kind of thing.
And, of course, it was both for me.
I struggled being social and even praying in front of people. It got to the point where I basically couldn't do anything with my eyes closed. I just felt self-conscious about people staring at me.
That was before I got on campus and realized Liberty wasn't like other schools.
It was before I met the people that would become my lifelong friends.
It was before I learned the sort of real-world lessons that would carry me physically, mentally, and spiritually into adulthood.
A Moment of Validation I found my calling at Liberty.
This is the part where I pretend like I wasn't completely oblivious to the school's existence, even though I only lived an hour away. My mom heard about coach Dot Richardson hosting a softball camp and suggested I go and tour the campus.
I remember arriving, and a certain peace about the place immediately put me at ease. Everybody was super nice—from the players on the softball team to the coaches and teachers. But the real turning point for me was the spiritual nature of the school.
I checked out other colleges, but I'd never felt a true presence of the Lord as much as I found at Liberty.
That's when I knew I found the place where I wanted to spend my life for the next four years. The best part about coming to that decision and actually signing was sharing that moment with my family. It was like a moment of validation for me.
All of those years spent grinding in the classroom and on the softball field—everything was for this moment. It was all for an opportunity to go to a Division I school and compete as a student-athlete, while also chasing a college diploma.
There was just this overwhelming sense of relief that I truly wanted to go there, and I knew they wanted me, too. I knew I still needed to work on coming out of my shell, but if any school could help me do that, it had to be Liberty.
Paying it Forward Slowly but surely, I started opening up.
I was blessed to be surrounded by some amazing teammates and coaches that pushed me to be better and step out of my comfort zone. That was especially the case with the group of seniors we had when I was a freshman.
They were so welcoming and kind enough to take me under their wing. It wasn't a situation where they were just rushing to get out of the door in their final year. They really invested time into helping me learn and grow.
That selfless act of paying it forward is a common theme at Liberty.
I knew from the very beginning that was how I wanted to be when I was a senior. I wanted to be that leader the younger girls could look up to for guidance and encouragement. I hoped to be a voice to inspire the freshmen versions of me to come out of their shells.
Let's just pray I did a good enough job this season.
If anything, I can at least say the last few years have helped make me more confident in who I am as a person. When I go out into the real world, I'll have a stronger foundation to take on whatever comes my way.
As long as I love myself, put my faith in God, and lend a helping hand when needed, I'll be just fine out there.
No Longer the Small Fish I went from a shy girl who prayed her coach would never call on her to being on the spiritual leadership team for the girls this year—sharing Scripture, praying, and leading pregame chapels.
It's amazing the difference four years can make.
I was even nominated for the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award this year. It definitely wasn't something on my radar, but I'm so honored to even be thought of for this award. Even if I don't win, I just feel so humbled and blessed that I've been able to make that kind of impression on people.
The people here at Liberty truly are special.
These last four years, I have seen the Lord move in my life and shape me into the person I am today. I am a woman who can now go out boldly into the world using my experiences here to encourage and impact others.
Wherever life takes me, I'll carry a small part of Liberty in my heart with me when I go.
Branded a leader by a Division I school and no longer the shy freshman—I don't feel like a small fish in a big pond anymore.
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