By Tyler Jones
Madison Stanley grew up in a basketball family in Woodbridge, N.J. But she wasn’t born with a passion for the sport.
“The biggest challenge I had to face growing up was the pressure of not being able to live up to the expectations of my parents,” Stanley said, “specifically my dad, and succeeding in my basketball career, as I started playing so late. Both of my sisters were very good high school basketball players and my dad played basketball in college, as well and I was always expected to follow in their footsteps and be just as good as them.”
Madison’s father had played basketball at the University of New Haven (Conn.), and her sisters played at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Stanley said she didn’t pick up the basketball bug until about seventh grade. She had always grown up to watch her sisters play, but was never put on a team till middle school.
She fell in love with the sport, and started to grow and became really tall for her age. Basketball came naturally to her, she loved it, and knew by working hard and constantly pushing herself to become the best player she could be, she could play in high school and maybe in college.
But there were obstacles along the way. Stanley attended three different high schools “It was a big adjustment for me because I was always afraid of change,” she said. “But I wouldn’t change my high school experience for the world. I had a great four years, and those were the best years of my life because of the people I met.”
Stanley was fortunate enough to end up at Rutgers Prep High School where she honed her basketball skills along with many other teammates who would end up as Division I players. She played under legendary coach Mary Klinger, who was also a coach on the women’s national team for the United States and played at Rutgers University.
Under Klinger, Stanley was part of a historic winning program. The team won two state championships, three Somerset County titles, and was recognized as the 13th-ranked team in high school basketball in the nation. She scored more than 1,000 points in her high school career.
“Overall, my experience playing at Rutgers Prep was so amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Stanley said, “because I got to play the game I love with my teammates who I loved playing with, I was able to be coached by someone who I respected and cared about so much, and we were able to accomplish things not many people have, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to play there.”
When Fairleigh Dickinson University offered Stanley a scholarship, she said it was an easy choice for her and her family.
“I chose FDU because it was close to home (45 minutes) so my family can come to almost all my games, and I can go home whenever I wanted too,” Stanley said. “I also really enjoyed my visit when I came here and really made bonds with my future teammates.”
But her career at FDU did not get off to a smooth start. Having come from starring in a historic high-school program where she never came off the court, Stanley had to learn a new role as a college teammate. She said she quickly realized that basketball was lot different in college than in high school because of the shot clock and the speed of the game. The players were stronger and faster, and she had to adjust to the game.
“I continued to work hard and push myself to get better,” Stanley said, “as I knew that next year my team would need me to step up, because of a senior who was in my position would be graduating.”
As a sophomore on the court in the 2018-2019 season, Stanley is becoming one of the league’s best play-makers. She has started in a handful of games, but has made an impact in every opportunity she has been given.
“As I continue my journey here at FDU, I want to win a NEC Championship and continue to push myself as a player and help better my teammates,” Stanley said.
Tyler Jones is a member of the FDU NEC Champion Men’s Basketball Team.
By a member of the COMM 3432 Sports Journalism class.