McIntosh County Academy senior on pace for 20 varsity sports letters

Credit: Courtesy of McMahan family

Credit: Courtesy of McMahan family

McIntosh County Academy senior Madi McMahan has scored goals in soccer and basketball. She’s won track-and-field region titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters. She’s medaled at the state cross country meet. She’s run and passed for touchdowns in flag football, and she’s kicked extra points in tackle football.

At this pace, McMahan is going to earn 20 varsity letters – four apiece in soccer, basketball, track and cross country and two each in football and flag football.

“This is highly unusual, and I can say with confidence that this is an incredible achievement,” GHSA executive director Robin Hines said. “Her record in all of these sports indicates not only did she letter but performed at an extremely high level.”

McIntosh County Academy athletic director and football coach Bradley Warren has never seen someone win 20 letters. He’s been coaching 27 years.

“It’s amazing if you think about it,” Warren said. “To put the amount of time necessary into each area in order to compete at a high level takes dedication, planning and hard work.”

Multi-sport athletes are essential to McIntosh County Academy, a coastal Georgia school of only about 385 students. The school just started a girls wrestling team this year, but despite pleadings, McMahan somehow declined that invitation.

The McMahan family, which moved to Darien from Dade County in northwest Georgia before McMahan’s ninth-grade year, will continue to do what it can, though. McMahan’s sister, Reagan, is a freshman who runs cross country and track, plays flag football and soccer and is a cheerleader. Their seventh-grade brother, Blake, plays football and baseball and runs cross country.

“We just grew up playing sports, and we’re very competitive,” Madi said. “Many times, I’ll go out and play baseball with my brother or kick a soccer ball around with my sister. We love playing all kinds of things.”

Madi is a daughter of associate head football coach and offensive coordinator Jamey McMahan, but her path to becoming an exceptional multi-sport athlete didn’t seem likely early on. Jamey put her on a soccer team when she was 7.

“She didn’t like it,” Jamey said. “When she was little, she always said she never wanted to play sports. Then she started having some success.”

Cross country was next. Madi started by running with her father, a jogger, in elementary school and hasn’t stopped. She played basketball for the first time in the sixth grade. She’s now a two-year varsity starter.

Football didn’t come along until her junior year. The team’s kicker had graduated.

“I love watching football, and my dad is a football coach, and I’ve been around it all my life, so when I got a chance, I wanted to do it,” Madi said. “As kind of a joke at first, I tried to see if I could kick a football, and it actually worked. I started practicing and became the kicker.”

She made 21 extra points this past season and was 6-for-6 in one game.

Madi’s sixth sport was flag football. The GHSA sanctioned it as a championship sport in the fall of 2021, also when Madi was playing for the traditional football team for the first time. Madi was a flag football running back the first season, then the team’s quarterback last fall.

Madi’s unanticipated football adventures actually made her a member of four active sports teams over one two-week stretch last year. With the football seasons ongoing, basketball practice began Oct. 24, and the state cross country meet finished Nov. 4. She was also been in a strength-and-conditioning program during the school day.

Coaches are practical with their demands, especially during school, but summer workouts – which are optional – provided the best demonstration of Madi’s dedication. She recalls going to football practice in the mornings for an hour, then to cross country, where she’d run for another hour. After lunch, she’d be back at school for two-hour basketball practices.

“I like challenging myself in different things, and I love sports, so I like to stay around those as much as I can,” she said.

McMahan committed this past weekend to Brenau University, the only school willing to let her do two sports – soccer and track. She’s most outstanding in soccer. A forward, she’s scored more than 60 goals the past two seasons and gained all-state recognition. Brenau also will be getting a 4.2-GPA student who ranks second in her graduating class.

Asked to describe his daughter’s personality, Jamey McMahan said he thought it was fitting that principal Todd Willis gave her the nickname Madi Ice a couple of years ago for her ability to rise to big occasions without talking or drawing unnecessary attention to herself.

“She doesn’t like to talk in front of people until she gets very comfortable,’’ Jamey McMahan said. “I think sports has given her an avenue to express herself. Sports is a way to show her personality without having to say much. She is the most driven and dedicated person that I know. She wants to succeed in everything that she does.”