One of North Oconee High School’s most decorated student-athletes will soon move on to the next level. Madison McMullen, a longtime member of North Oconee’s multi-time state championship gymnastics team, signed a scholarship last week to continue competing at The George Washington University.
McMullen celebrated her scholarship signing at a large event held last Wednesday, Nov. 10, at North Oconee. She and several other student-athletes officially signed their letters of intent and accepted scholarship offers.
For McMullen, the day was the culmination of a years-long dream.
“This is so meaningful to me,” McMullen said. “I've worked a long time, probably 12 years in gymnastics. Signing and being able to achieve my dream of being a collegiate gymnast is amazing.”
McMullen’s high school coach, Hillary Sanders, addressed the large crowd of people gathered for the signing event.
Sanders listed off McMullen’s achievements, noting that she won multiple state titles as a club gymnast and brought home two team championships for North Oconee in 2019 and 2021.
“She consistently scored in the mid-9s out of 10, which is very impressive,” Sanders said. “It led us to a No. 1 state ranking all season going into state. At state last year, she was on the podium for every single event. She was on the podium five times. ... That is definitely an impressive feat, and I don't know that there have been many other high school athletes that have been able to do that.”
But for Sanders, McMullen’s personality and role within the team were just as important as her competitive contributions.
“We definitely caught lightning in a bottle with [McMullen], our whole gymnastics program,” Sanders said. “She leads by example. She may not necessarily be the most vocal leader – she keeps us laughing constantly – but she leads by example. Last year, I gave her the 'Consistency Award' because that's definitely what she is: she's consistent.”
McMullen said she dreamed of being a collegiate gymnast since she started participating in the sport, which was 14 years ago.
She received a couple of walk-on offers in addition to the scholarship offer from George Washington, which is located in Washington, D.C.
McMullen said the team atmosphere at George Washington convinced her to sign with the Colonials.
“It felt like home, honestly,” she said. “The team was amazing. I loved the campus, the atmosphere. I loved it all so much.”
It was clear that George Washington wanted McMullen on its team.
Instead of asking her to join the program next fall, which would be the normal timeline for incoming freshmen athletes, the team wanted McMullen on its roster in the spring.
McMullen will forego her final year of competition at North Oconee to join the Colonials a semester early.
“GW wanted me to come early,” McMullen said. “I was already graduating early anyway. I only had one more class (left) to graduate and I was able to. I just loved everything about GW and wanted to be there as fast as I could, so I chose to go early.”
While studying at George Washington, McMullen said she intends to major in exercise science.
As for her athletic exploits, McMullen wants to make an immediate impression with the Colonials.
“I hope to make it to regionals with my team and to help my team make it as far as it can through the meets,” McMullen said. “And hopefully win a lot of our meets.”
McMullen will leave North Oconee behind and head north after December.
With her new venture on the horizon, McMullen reflected on her time and success with the Titans.
“It's exciting but sad at the same time,” she said. “I know I'm gonna miss training with my team and being able to compete with them, my high school and my club gymnastics team as well. It's pretty emotional. I'm gonna miss it a lot, but I'm excited for the future.”