A difficult decision

Woodland senior Maddie Hupprich puts up a shot during basketball season this past winter. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — Taking one look at her daughter, Diana Hupprich knew something was wrong. When she asked Maddie what was the matter, the answer was more of a relief than anything else.

“She said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go to Eastern,’” Diana Hupprich recalled.

Maddie Hupprich, the senior and three-sport athlete at Woodland, had recently committed to playing softball at Eastern Connecticut State University but was beginning to feel the pressure of letting people down by wanting to change her decision.

“I was surprised when she told me she was going to go to Eastern in the first place,” Diana Hupprich said. “I knew that Memphis was her first choice out of the 18 schools we visited.”

“I still feel like I’m letting people down,” Maddie Hupprich said. “Primarily my dad (Gary). Maybe it was more of his dream to watch me play sports in college. I love my dad and certainly didn’t want to disappoint him. But when it comes right down to it, the decision is mine and no one else’s. And I need to be happy and I’m happy with the decision I made to attend the University of Memphis.”

Ever since Maddie was a child, trying to emulate her mom, who played volleyball for Southern Connecticut State University, might have fueled her dream of playing sports in college.

She was an instant success at Woodland, playing all four years of varsity basketball, three years as a starter in softball and a starter on the volleyball court her junior and senior years.

The accolades followed.

She earned All-NVL and All-State honors in volleyball and was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches All-Star game. She earned All-Iron Division honors her senior year of basketball, and was named to the All-Iron Division team in her junior year of softball. She was named as a team captain as a senior in all three sports.

She was a natural to make the progression to collegiate athletics, but then came the surgery.

Last summer, Maddie injured her shoulder playing travel softball but played through the pain during the volleyball and basketball seasons. She underwent surgery following the basketball season and the recovery has kept her on the bench in her final softball season.

“I’m not so sure that the surgery played a big part in my decision,” she said. “But it is a seven-month recovery and I do have concerns about reinjuring it. I had lengthy conversations with coach (Jess) Moffo during the basketball season, and she told me I need to do what makes me happy.

“(Softball) coach (Loren) Luddy has also been supportive and told me that I will do great things at Memphis. Both softball coaches at Eastern and Memphis have been great about the situation.”

Although she hasn’t ruled out trying out for the team as a walk-on in her sophomore year at the University of Memphis, which the coach encouraged, Maddie is looking forward to focusing on her double major in elementary education and health human performance. Her performance in the classroom, where she has made high honors in all but one semester in high school and is member of the World Language Honor Society, has her looking forward to enjoying the college life without the burden of an athletic schedule.

“I had good vibes when I went down there,” she said. “I feel it’s a place I can thrive at and make the most of my four years.”

“Gary and I are so proud of all that Maddie accomplished at Woodland,” Diana Hupprich said. “It was beyond anything we could have hoped for her. Gary was a little silent after Maddie told us, but it was probably from the thought of not seeing her on a regular basis that bothered him the most being so far away.”

It may take a while for Gary and Diana Hupprich to get over the withdrawal of cheering on their children from the sidelines with their son, Evan, a junior at Central Connecticut State University majoring in computer technology and Maddie gearing up to be a future teacher at the University of Memphis.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Maddie said. “I worked all my life to get to this point and now that I made it I realized that sports was not going to get me where I wanted to be. I know I will miss competing in sports. I’ve been dribbling a basketball since I was 3 years old and sports has always kept me in check as far as my grades went.

“I just want to enjoy my life as a college student without the pressure of being a college athlete. And I want to focus on getting my degree and supporting myself after college. That seems to be the most important goals for me right now.”