Although most high school football players dream of playing big time college football, the sad reality is that most will never achieve that dream. Most will attend college and watch the Saturday festivities from the stands as a regular student. During his freshman year at The University of Oregon, that was no different for Golden Valley alumnus KJ Maduike. For Maduike, that story has a different ending and a new beginning. From the stands, Maduike is now a member of the football team at Oregon. After a grueling process to be chosen as a walk on, Maduike has fulfilled his dream.
During tryout process Maduike felt a familiar feel while going through the numerous drills. “These drills were the same
ones that I did at GV,” Maduike said.
Maduike also realized that one mistake could seal his fate to being a spectator again. “I noticed that if someone messed up the coaches would immediately turn their heads away and not watch that individual anymore,” Maduike said. Maduike made sure he gave it his best effort and fortunately for him he didn’t have any mistakes.
After the several practices he said, “All the coaches came up to me and asked, ‘who are you, where did you go to school, what position did you play?'” Maduike said. He was pleased with his performance during his tryout even though he had hurt his hamstring two days prior.
The coaches told us that we would be notified by email. Anxiously waiting for that email, Maduike was on pins and needles. “I got the email and it said I didn’t make the team,” Maduike said. He was depressed that he didn’t make it but his friend said to keep reading. As he read further the email mentioned he needed to call the coach. He was relieved to see that the only thing he had to do to make the team was to get his grade up in math.
Fortunately, school work and hard work are something that comes natural to him. Maduike’s mother has always stressed academics.
The proof is in the pudding because both his sisters are excellent students. His sister Chelsea graduated from UCLA with a degree in biology and a minor in Global Health. She is presently in medical school. His other sister Courtney graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Culture and Politics along with a minor in International Development. She currently works for a political consulting and digital marketing company in the Bay Area.
Growing up, Maduike and his sisters had a wonderful example to give them the work ethic they presently have. “My dad died when I was very young and my mother had to raise all of us. She did so with an iron fist demanding excellence from her children,” Maduike said. As a high school athlete, Maduike was also fortunate to have a head coach who also stressed academics.
“Coach Kelley made sure we all had our academics in order. He was a great example for us,” Maduike said. Coach Kelley knew Maduike had what it took to be successful.
“He’s one of the hardest working kids that I coached and he was always trying to get a leg up on academics,” coach Kelley said. It came to no surprise he would work with his math teacher after class for extra help to get the grade up so he can be part of the team.
Maduike feels that high school had prepared him well for college, especially mentally, and owes a lot of it to coach Kelly and coach Harris. Maduike explained that his senior year he made the playoffs for the first time in school history but lost in the semi-finals, thus ending his high school career. Maduike’s message to the GV football team right now is to work hard, stay focused and keep Golden Valley football moving in the right direction.
The Grizzlies did that by advancing to the their first CIF championship game last year. With the right attitude and work ethic, not only will Maduike become a successful student-athlete at Oregon but the GV football team will continue to make him proud by doing the things it takes to be successful both on the field and in the classroom.