By: Elsa Pater ‘22
It was a Wednesday night. The gym was packed full of anxious people awaiting the most highly anticipated game of the season. It was a rematch of the 2018 5A state championship game, which ended with a devastating loss for Regis Jesuit of six points. Freshman, Madden McHugh enters the biggest game of her life. She dribbles down the court with her tongue sticking out, just as it has since her love of sports began.
“There was so much hype leading up to it and we all knew we had to get business done, we had to win this game. We weren’t going to let them beat us twice in a row,” McHugh said after the game. “It was an unbelievable game to play in.”
Madden McHugh has always been a basketball player, since she was four years old. She says, “I had a hoop in my backyard in my old house and I was out there every day, just shooting, shooting, shooting.”
Fast forward to this year, she can often be seen on the court blowing by defenders and contributing to the team’s blowouts with her favorite shot, the kick-out three. It is not often that a freshman is put onto a varsity team, especially at Regis Jesuit where the girl’s basketball program is highly competitive.
McHugh gives a lot of credit to the returning players. “They’d help me with my homework if I needed it. They’d tell me you got this. They’d just keep pushing me, even if I wanted to quit and I really have my team to thank for that,” McHugh says.
Being a freshman on varsity is not the only challenge that Madden has had to overcome. Madden is only 5’4” tall. “I just use [my height] to my strength instead of weakness. I’m quick so I can try to get past people like that and I can maneuver places and kick it out to my teammates,” McHugh says. She also played baseball for many years on an all boys team, which many girls would not have the courage to do.
Madden feels that the team is not just a group of girls who play basketball together, but more like a family. She says, “It’s a team sport, it’s not an individual, if an individual tries to win the game, you’re going to lose. There’s a reason why there’s five players on the court and I think our team does that really well. We work as a team, we have great connections with each other, we’re all best friends, we’re like a family so that’s what basketball’s done for me, just become an extra family.”
McHugh dreams of one day playing Division I basketball, but for now she is focused on winning the state championship this season. The Regis Jesuit Girls Basketball team defeated Denver East on February 26, 2019 with a score of 72 to 15 and will play in a Great Eight game at the Denver Coliseum on Friday, March First.
Madden said after the sweet sixteen win, “I’m so excited for the next game especially because this is the first time I will be playing in the coliseum!”
If you catch her in the hallways the day of, she might just have an apple juice in her hand, a critical part of her pregame ritual. She always has two apple juices, one at academic support and one at lunch.
When the basketball season ends, you can catch Madden McHugh on the soccer field, where she will impress you with her fancy footwork.