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Tenacious competitor: Mitschke leads Paradise squads to success throughout year

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, July 7, 2018
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Best of Sports 2017-2018: Female Athlete of the Year

Maddie Mitschke. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Every morning when Maddie Mitschke wakes up, she is reminded of the way Paradise’s 2017-2018 basketball season ended.

On the wall beside her bed is a photo of Mitschke on the bench, in tears with her head in her hands. Trailing by double digits against Brock in the bi-district round of the playoffs, the Lady Panthers made a run to cut the deficit to six early in the fourth quarter.

Moments later, Mitschke picked up her fifth foul and was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the game.

As the clock bled down and Brock pulled away, Paradise’s leading scorer and rebounder could only watch as the Lady Eagles sent the Lady Panthers home for the second straight year.

“I have the picture taped in my room – the one of me crying on the bench. It says, ‘Down and out,'” Mitschke recalled, referencing the Messenger article from the game. “It was devastating that I couldn’t go out there and help my teammates. It just ached. Deep, deep down.”

The three-sport star’s competitiveness is nothing new. She’s a been a mainstay on the Lady Panthers’ cross country, basketball and track teams the past three years. As a junior, Mitschke earned a string of cross country medals, Wise County Co-MVP on the basketball court and ended the year at the state track meet, making her the pick for Wise County Female Athlete of the Year.

In the fall, Mitschke medaled at every cross country meet before the Class 3A Region I race in Lubbock. Mitschke ran 12:58 on the 3,200-meter course to finish 24th at regionals.

At just 5-7, the relentless Mitschke was Paradise’s leading rebounder, averaging 10.1 boards. She also led the Lady Panthers in scoring, averaging 12.9 points per night. She was the only girl in Wise County to average a double-double and earned District 8-3A first-team honors.

A crafty dribble-drive point guard, Mitschke helped the Lady Panthers jump out to a 5-1 record in league play. Paradise finished the season 18-13.

“As a coach, you come across these kids every so often,” said Paradise girls basketball coach Chad Woodard. “She pours out so much of her heart into the game. She is the ultimate competitor.”

Mitschke’s insatiable desire to win started at an early age.

When she was younger, Mitschke would race to finish her tests in school. She was so competitive, her mother nearly had to have her tested in a separate room just so she would slow down.

“I hate losing,” Mitschke said. “It’s how I’ve always been since I was little.”

On the court, Mitschke is tasked with running Paradise’s offense and leading their up-tempo, pressure defense. According to Woodard, not only does Mitschke know her role – she knows everyone else’s, too.

No matter what Woodard dials up, he said Mitschke will know where everyone on the court should be and their assignment.

“She’s going to orchestrate the offense. That’s what coaches need to have on the floor,” Woodard said. “I’m not saying it comes easy for her, she just works at it. She’s one of the best students of the game I’ve been around.”

And the learning doesn’t stop in basketball.

In track this spring, Mitschke ran in an event for the first time ever – the 300 hurdles. After running several other events her freshman and sophomore year, Mitschke and her coach, Johna Ford, decided to change things up.

The switch paid off.

Mitschke won district and area titles in the event, clocking 46.45 and 47.57, respectively. She went on to claim a wild card berth at the state meet, finishing third at the 3A Region I meet with a 45.25.

“In the 300 hurdles, I feel like it’s me versus the world,” Mitschke said. “Once you get out there, you’re by yourself and in your element. It’s all you.

“I never thought I would get as far as I went. I was very fortunate and blessed all this happened. This year, I tried to help take control and be a team leader.”

In addition to competing in an event that was foreign to her, Mitschke also had to run through an injury for most of the season.

The junior suffered a deep abdominal strain in her second meet at Boyd, forcing her to attend several rehab sessions during the year. But Mitschke was focused on the team throughout her recovery.

Her injury caused her to sit out of the mile and sprint relay at Boyd, and according to Ford, all she could think about was potentially hurting the team.

Mitschke eventually returned for both relays and helped the Lady Panthers take third in the 4×100 and first in the 4×400 at the 8-3A meet. Mitschke told the Messenger on April 5 her side was still sore from the injury but was improving.

“She felt like she was being selfish,” Ford said. “She kept apologizing. She felt like her running the hurdles is what was hurting it because you engage your core so much when you’re hurdling. She felt like if she hadn’t been hurdling, she could have run the other relays.”

Despite battling a nagging side stitch and learning the intricacies of a new race, Mitschke finished eighth in 3A with a 47.78 at the state meet in May. But her tenacity and lofty finish surprised few people.

Everyone knew she would give the competition a run for their money.

“She’s not your typical competitor,” Ford said. “She is extremely fierce. She puts a lot of pressure on herself to perform. She has no idea what she’s capable of. Kids like that are pretty rare. That’s why anyone that knows her wants to see her succeed.”

Mitscke Inset

Maddie Mitschke. Messenger photos by Joe Duty

WISE COUNTY FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR RECIPIENTS

2010: Haley Meekins, Bridgeport
2011: Jordan Ward, Alvord
2012: Jordan Ward, Alvord
2013: Ariel Rogers, Alvord
2014: Makayla Mayfield, Decatur
2015: Makayla Mayfield, Decatur
2016: Taylor Richards, Paradise
2017: Lindsey Thorpe, Boyd
2018: Maddie Mitschke, Paradise

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