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Maddy Thomas '22

Building community, character on the field and amid the flames

During college, Maddy Thomas '22 has spent her springs on the softball field as a catcher for the Pirates and her summers in the forests as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service. Below, the health science major reflects on how both experiences have taught her lessons in teamwork and overcoming the odds.

Community and culture were two of the biggest things that drew me to Whitworth and have been themes I hold true to my heart as I venture outside the Pinecone Curtain. Drive, discipline, respect and integrity are all blocks in the foundation of my collegiate softball and academic career. Finding these in the summer months amidst coniferous forests and flames as a wildland firefighter has been the most formative experience. Having outlets that allow me to experience the extremes of teamwork and camaraderie has brought out attributes in myself I did not know I held. Whitworth has demanded the most out of me, and I am forever thankful for the demanding nature of this university and the tone in which we choose to pursue every day.  

The softball program here at Whitworth has shown me the importance of representing something that is larger than oneself. Outside of individual stats, accolades and previous successes, collegiate athletics have taught me how to push past all odds and seek success as a cohesive unit. Firefighting has done the same and then some.

This summer passion has allowed for me to explore similar success and discipline in a new light. While working with teammates in high elevation and secluded areas, I have learned the power of positive, organized and regimented community. You take care of your crew by taking care of yourself and fulfilling your duties and chores to the best of your ability. This can take on a multitude of different forms, but for crews this may look like always making sure the saws are ready to go and the sawyers are taken care of, and those who are digging line are aware of the area in need but ready to adjust and reconvene based on the fire needs at that time. 

Witnessing the machine-like actions fire crews perform brings out the same awe I've had in collegiate competition. Everyone wants to see the crew or team succeed whether that be completing the line dig in a certain amount of time, surrounding a fire safely, managing helicopters and supply drop sites, or planning and prepping a prescribed burn unit. Everyone is competing for a bigger purpose.

After graduation I will be continuing this passion on the Interagency Hotshot Crew out of La Grande, Ore., to take on my rookie summer as a Hotshot. I am equally excited as I am nervous to see how far I will be pushed and to see where my abilities take me. Hotshot crews offer one of the most extreme settings for teamwork, as the militaristic training demands you to push past typical insecurities. I know Whitworth, the community, the people and the softball program have equipped me with the tools to be successful on the fire line, and I am eager to see those at play.    

About Maddy Thomas

  • Set Whitworth's career home run record (currently 38)
  • Set Whitworth's single-season record for home runs (14) and slugging average (.828) in 2021
  • Two-time second team All-Northwest Conference catcher
  • Co-president of the NCAA Student Athletic Advisory Committee, 2019-22
  • Secretary of the Northwest Conference Student Athletic Advisory Committee, 2020-22
  • Student meal manager for the COVID Care Team, 2020-21


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