By Rick Morwick
So, exactly how good of a volleyball player is Madison Hammill?
Well, the fact that she will be a four-year starter for state power Center Grove High School speaks volumes. Her sterling stats from her setter position speak even louder.
But nothing screams “standout” as forcefully as the fact she committed to NCAA Division I power Wisconsin during her freshman year.
That’s how good Hammill, better known as M.J., is. And she’s a major reason why the Trojans expect to make a strong bid for the Class 4A state championship.
“M.J. has been a tremendous value to our program,” Center Grove volleyball coach Chris Due said. “She pushes not just herself, but all the players around her. She is the type of player that will make the players around her better by challenging them and also being very supportive of them.
“When her time is said and done at Center Grove, she will have left her mark in the program as being one of the best, if the best, setter that has come through Center Grove.”
Hammill, however, is less concerned about her legacy than she is about winning. The defending sectional champion Trojans have bowed out of the IHSAA state tournament at the regional round each of the past two seasons, and she is determined to do her part to help the senior-laden Trojans enjoy a significantly lengthier postseason run.
“This year, I am extremely excited to continue getting better as a team, and we are all working toward the goal of winning each game we have this season,” said Hammill, who will be a senior in August. “We will have a lot of seniors this year, including myself, so it is a great atmosphere of competing and wanting to work hard.
“I enjoy the bond that I have with my teammates and the feeling of competing with them.”
One of the state’s top players, Hammill literally grew up with volleyball. Her mother, Julie Hammill, was a four-year standout at Clemson University. And her older sister, former Trojans’ setter Taylor Hammill, plays at Middle Tennessee State. So, it’s little wonder the younger Hammill was drawn to the sport.
“I have played volleyball officially for eight years now, but I have been in the gym my whole life,” M.J. said. “My mom, who played volleyball in college, has coached. Also, my sister has played almost her whole life, too, so I have always been around it and grown up watching it.”
Fortunately for the Trojans, she now excels at it. Last year, she tallied 830 assists, 340 digs, 126 kills, 57 blocks and 57 service aces in helping Center Grove win a second consecutive sectional title and finish 27-7.
“She holds herself to a high standard and leads by example with her work ethic and commitment,” Due said. “She puts in a lot of time and effort on and off the court, and the skill set and leadership she brings are very instrumental to our success. She pushes not just herself, but all the players around her. She has a very high volleyball I.Q. and uses that to her advantage when running the offense.”
THE HAMMILL FILE
NAME: Madison “M.J.” Hammill
HEIGHT: 6 feet
EXPERIENCE: Will be a four-year starter
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: ping pong and spending time with friends
FAVORITE MOVIE: Rain Man
FAVORITE TV SHOW: New Girl
COLLEGE PLANS: Has verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin; plans to study chemistry or biology
PARENTS: Bob and Julie Hammill