Madeline Mayfield arrived at Mount Airy High School four years ago with an impossible legacy to live up to. She leaves with one of her own.
When the 2018 MAHS graduate was coming up through the ranks of various youth and middle school athletic teams, her talent for sports was unmistakable, and eerily reminiscent of that of her mother, Angela Harbour Mayfield, whose own career as a Lady Granite Bear was so impressive that it landed her in the Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame. And while no one meant to put unfair expectations on Madeline, it was unavoidable.
“There were a lot of people who kept saying “you’re going to be like your momma,” but I always tried to separate that from her and encourage her to be her own person,” said Angela Mayfield, who ended up coaching her daughter in AAU basketball and in her final two seasons of high school hoops. “We never really talked about it. I wanted her to carry her own load and be her own person.
“She is successful in her own right and it doesn’t matter what I accomplished.”
Madeline Mayfield ended her career at Mount Airy High School as an All-Conference performer in women’s basketball, track and field, and volleyball, and won or shared Northwest 1A Conference Player of the Year honors in each of the latter two sports her senior season. And on Friday evening, she became the most recent MAHS student-athlete of the Class of 2018 to sign a college National Letter of Intent, to join the track and field team at Campbell University.
The daughter stepped out of the shadow, and she’s cast a long one of her own.
Because of her family history, and because of the great success of her youth league teams over the years, Madeline’s high school debut in the fall of 2014 was eagerly anticipated by Granite Bear supporters. She ended up competing in varsity sports for four seasons in both volleyball and track, and for three seasons in basketball.
It was in her sophomore season that she began to write her own sports legacy. Mayfield was a key player for a Mount Airy volleyball team that beat out perennial league bully East Surry for the conference title. A few months later, in February of 2016, she teamed up with Shalin Revels, Jessica Bevard and Jo Snow to win the state indoor 4×400 relay title, the first championship ring in the Mayfield family. There would be more to come.
By her junior year, the 5’10” Mayfield was a mainstay for her coaches in all three of her sports. The Lady Bears won 23 matches in volleyball that fall, with Madeline as an All-Conference performer. In February of 2017, she and her three teammates on the 4×400 weren’t seeded first in the state indoor championship, but it didn’t stop them from repeating.
“Track was my favorite sport,” Madeline said. “There was pressure on me in basketball, but not in track. I could just do what I wanted in track, and that made it the most fun for me, because there was no pressure. No one was pushing me to play like my mom did.”
In basketball, her mom succeeded Howard Mayo as head coach for the 2016-17 season, and Madeline moved into the Lady Bears’ starting lineup. At the time, no 1A traditional school had won a state title in women’s basketball for 11 years, and no one expected Mount Airy, with four new starters, to change that. They had other ideas.
“Honestly, they would rather win than anything, and whatever it took, they were willing to do that,” said Angela Mayfield. “They all genuinely liked each other, they all wanted the same thing and they all had the same goal.”
The Lady Bears held off a stiff challenge from then-league rival Atkins to win the conference regular-season and tournament titles, but had to face the Camels a fourth time in the third round of the state playoffs. And Mount Airy had a problem, in the person of a rangy shooting guard named Tyler Davenport who ended up signing a Division I basketball scholarship a year later. Davenport had helped hand Mount Airy one of its two losses and nearly beat them in the NW1A final. For the fourth meeting, Angela told Madeline to shadow Davenport — wherever she goes, Madeline would go also.
“I knew if (Davenport) scored like she normally scored in games, we wouldn’t win,” said Madeline. “Stopping her was my role that whole game. I didn’t even think about offense, it was just defense that game.”
She shut Davenport out. Mount Airy beat the Camels 50-27, then came from behind to beat Murphy and Avery County in the next two rounds before routing Pamlico for the state title in Chapel Hill.
“That was a great feeling. I’ve been around those girls for a long time, and even with the comfort level we all have with each other, I don’t think anyone ever imagined that would be able to do that once, let alone twice,” said Angela, who reached the West Regional final twice as a player, but never won the title. “Just the satisfaction of seeing those girls come together and experience that with them was a lot of fun.”
Her senior year brought more success, including a co-Player of the Year honor in volleyball and an outright Player of the Year citation in outdoor track. In between came another state championship on the hardwood. Again, Madeline had to play defensive stopper against a fearsome opponent in a big game. This time, it was the West Regional final and the assignment was 6’3” Jessica Beckner, Murphy’s All-State center and another future college player. The Lady Bears didn’t stop Beckner, but Madeline and fellow post defender Arry Ward contained her enough to win the game.
“(Beckner) was a big girl,” Madeline said. “Being that she was bigger than me, it was hard for me to get in front of her. She was taller and wider than me and she was hard to get around.”
A second straight blowout of Pamlico, this time in Raleigh, followed, and the Lady Bears were champions again.
“We had that goal of winning the state championship from the beginning,” said Madeline. “We had all been playing together since we were very little. Never imagined we would win two.”
She said that although track is her favorite sport, the two basketball titles were the most satisfying for her.
“The relays where I won the championships were just four people, but in basketball, it was our whole team working together for that,” she said.
Madeline never averaged more than 4.3 points per game in a season of basketball, but still earned All-Conference honors and started for two championship teams.
“People would come all of the time and ask Madeline why she didn’t look to score, and it was irritating, because she had just spent every bit of energy she had defending and rebounding,” said Angela.
Madeline plans to study pharmacy in college, and the combination of an outstanding pharmacy school, coupled with an NCAA Division I track and field program, made Campbell the obvious choice for her future.
“Campbell is the only school in North Carolina where I can do pharmacy and track,” she said. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to play a sport in college. This is why I did all of the AAU stuff. I’ve worked at it since I was young.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.