Northwest Guilford's Madison Young figured she had reached a crossroads in her athletic career while in the sixth grade.
She was playing basketball for a couple AAU teams and wedging in travel softball. Realizing it had gotten to be too much and something had to go, she decided to give up softball.
"I love basketball way more," said Madison, a sophomore who plays point guard and shooting guard for the Vikings.
She says she was drawn to the sport as a youngster while watching college basketball with her dad, and started playing basketball in recreational leagues when she was in the third and fourth grades.
She later began playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) ball and played on her middle school basketball team before joining the Nighthawks' high school team last year. In more recent years she has committed herself to taking her basketball skills to a higher level.
"I started working harder, getting in the gym more, practicing with my trainers more," she said. She hopes to soon start working with young girls to help them develop their basketball skills and techniques.
"I just love the feeling of playing it," she said of the sport.
This year she's averaging about 13 points a game.
Being required to wear a face mask while playing basketball has presented a challenge, Madison acknowledged. But, "I love playing, so it's nothing I can't get used to," she noted.
Madison plays basketball for Northwest from November through February and for a travel team the rest of the year. She still has a few years of high school left, but she's already set her sights on playing at the college level one day.
"That's my No. 1 goal," she said.
Her college preference?
"I'm really open to anything," she said, then added she's attracted to the team chemistry she's picked up on at N.C. State, UNC-Charlotte and Appalachian State.
Basketball takes a good chunk of her time, so she doesn't play other sports at Northwest. She has, however, made time to volunteer with Out of the Garden Project, a Triad-based ministry dedicated to providing food to the hungry. About the time the coronavirus pandemic hit a year ago she was volunteering in the nonprofit's warehouse. She expects to get back to that this summer.
"I really like helping people," Madison said. "It makes you feel good after you do it."