COLONIAL BEACH, Va.(D9/EYT) – Adversity has struck time and time again, but Cranberry native, Madeline “Maddie” Keenan, has continued to work through the various challenges that life has presented her with.
(Photos courtesy of Jason Kapusta.)
A serious car accident, having to depart with high school swimming, and COVID-19 ending her college athletic career prematurely are some battles Keenan has faced over the last several years. For those that know her, they know it was her spirit that has made overcoming these challenges possible.
As someone with a lot of drive, a supportive group of family and friends, and strong faith, she’s marched on and now calls Colonial Beach, Virginia, and her role as a Digital Marketing Associate for Flair Communications home.
While it was a leap of faith from her previous role at C-93 Radio, in Clarion, her charm and ability to strike up conversations with virtually anyone she meets or talks with have served her well in this new part of her career.
Graduating a semester early with a degree in Broadcasting & Media Production from Westminster College, Keenan earned the opportunity to begin her career full-time in the area she grew up in as an on-air personality, as well as a salesperson for the business. This after earning an internship with the company beginning in the summer of 2020 and working part-time, three days a week during her last semester of college.
Prior to this, she had accepted a role at a Dollar General for the summer in order to help put a few extra bucks in her pocket over what would ultimately be her final summer during her college days. After a few weeks in the role, she heard C-93 was hiring interns for the summer. It did not take her long to inquire about the opportunity and secure the position.
However, she decided not to depart with the Dollar General opportunity, instead – working days for the station and nights for the store. A day that started in the early morning hours did not end until around the time third shifters were heading to their respective roles. To get through such long days, power naps in her car were needed to make sure she could make it through the final six hours of her workday.
Crazy enough, this may not have been the busiest part of her life. Her college days may have been even busier as a student-athlete who competed in cross-country in the fall, indoor track and field in the winter, and outdoor track and field during the spring. She managed a sport in each season while also working for Westminster College student campus media that broadcasted a collection of athletic and community events. She also hosted her own radio show on Titan Radio WCN & The Holcad, experiences that eventually made her a great fit for C-93.
Keenan also held down a position as a resident assistant for two years, became the chapter president of Phi Mu Beta Upsilon Chapter at Westminster, served as a Program Director for Titan Radio WCN & The Holcadand, and even graduated Magna Cum Laude.
“I took every minute of time I had in college seriously,” Keenan said. “I would almost run myself ragged from Monday till Sunday afternoon. Saturday, I would help broadcast for eight or nine hours, and then I would crash. I just enjoyed being busy and thoroughly enjoyed the college experience. The school aspect, the clubs, and being on teams were all so important to me. I wanted to make sure I did not waste a single opportunity that I could have had.”
Keenan, without question, did not waste her time in college, even if she only had less than an hour to give to prepare for an upcoming track meet. Uniquely, she ran cross-country in the fall, but she was a thrower for the Titans women’s track and field team during the winter and spring.
This decision is something that dates back to her high school career as she wanted to letter and help the Cranberry Berries girls track team during high school. In order to do this as a freshman, she did distance runs, javelin, and hurdles along the way. In the end, it became javelin that would be her primary event in track and field for the next three years.
With this in mind, she did not expect to continue cross-country at the college level. In fact, she was ready to depart from the sport for good after her senior year at Cranberry. Instead, she was more concerned about making a good impression as a thrower during track season. While it easily could have worked out that she solely focused on throwing during college, she decided that running was not something she was ready to depart with.
Not long before the college cross-country season started back in 2017, Keenan decided she was going to join the cross-country program, as well. It was a move that allowed her to continue to be teammates with her twin brother, Harrison, in the sport they first joined back in middle school.
Being a part of cross-country in high school allowed her to be a member of the first Cranberry girls’ cross-country District 9 title while also adding a runner-up finish in her senior year. She also ran in the state cross-country meet, an experience she says is perhaps the best opportunity from all of her athletic career. Continuing at Westminster allowed her to run cross-country for three more years, with her fourth season being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
College track and field only allowed for three full indoor seasons, with her outdoor career for the Titans only shaking out to feature two seasons because of COVID-19. However, she took advantage of the time she had as a collegiate track and field athlete by improving her marks in javelin while also picking up weight throw in the middle of her college career.
When reflecting on her time as a thrower in college, she had this to say about her throwing coach, Ryan Protzman, who helped her improve so much during her final indoor season.
“He was so influential to me and it was outstanding to be coached by him. I remember only having 45 minutes sometimes to practice, but he would just tell me to give him all that I had for that amount of time. I had a huge PR at the conference meet in weight throw. That proved to me you can still be super busy and be a successful college athlete. I never thought that would be my final meet I ever threw in or that the conference outdoor championships my sophomore year (2019) would be the final time I threw outdoors.”
In a collegiate athletic career that did not end as she once hoped, there are many people who helped her reach the opportunity to become a college athlete, to begin with. Her father, Joe, was her first coach and helped both her and her brother, Harrison, reach the collegiate level. In high school, her cross-country coaches – Jeremy Lander and Andi Barrett – were both impactful in different ways that helped her become a better athlete and runner. She also credits her mom, Marcie, for being the person who has helped her become the caring and thoughtful person she is today.
With her own athletic career over, she is hopeful to one day give back as a coach like so many have done for her over the years. For now, she’s continuing to focus on her career and taking advantage of experiencing life in a new state for the first time.