College Park freshman living up to family name

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Mallory Madison is living up to some big expectations.

She started on a playoff volleyball team at College Park, never leaving the court as an all-around player. She earned second-team, all-district honors… as a freshman.

Madison is the future of College Park volleyball under the direction of Candy Collins-Gibson.

So, ready for the plot twist?

Her dad was a star football player at The Woodlands and Texas A&M, and is now the head football coach at College Park. Her mom won a pair of state volleyball titles as the head coach of The Woodlands, and was a legend at Cy-Fair and SMU.

No pressure, right?

"I always grew up in the gym for as long as I can remember," she said. "I was tagging along to my mom's practices at The Woodlands. She doesn't brag about her career. What's cool is that I can brag on her to my friends. She's set high expectations for me and it's awesome to have a role model like her in my life.

"It was sort of weird when we played at The Woodlands this year and I was thinking – I've been here before," she said.

After winning state in 2012 and 2013, Madison took the head job at Magnolia before hanging up her whistle a year later to spend more time with her young family and support her husband Lonnie as he took on his first head coaching job.

In another plot twist, Madison is an assistant coach at Houston Skyline, where Mallory plays. The head coach and one of the directors? Courtney Eckenrode, who was the setter for Madison and the Highlanders when they won their first title.

Talk about full circle.

"She was one of favorite players growing up," Mallory said of Eckenrode.

Being a coach's kid, Mallory just understands every facet of the game well beyond her age. Her versatility is what sets her apart and earned her a varsity spot.

"I knew the varsity game was going to be a lot different than eighth-grade volleyball," she said. "Playing club had me ready but the pace was something I had to get used to. It was fast. I loved playing with the older girls, and it pushed me to bring my game up to their level.

"I'm a hard worker and a team-player," she said. "I can go in wherever the team needs me. I used to set in junior high and am a defensive specialist in club. I'm a good all-around player. What I'm going to need to work on as I get older are my leadership skills."

Madison has aspirations of playing in college like her parents, but has enjoyed the time off from the year-round sport due to COVID19.

"It's been nice to relax and take some time to go outside and go swimming and watch TV," she said. "You never get to do that during the crazy club season."