Here at Bruins Nation, we have decided to start a new series entitled “Bruin in the Spotlight.” This segment is dedicated to the student-athletes at UCLA. It’s a way for readers to get to know the person behind the title of student-athlete. We hope you enjoy.
First up: Gymnast Madison Kocian.
The Dallas native, who usually goes by Maddie, had a typical year just like any other girl her age. She started college, competed in collegiate gymnastics, went through the horrible stress of finals week and promptly wrapped up her freshman year at UCLA. Oh, and she also won a gold and silver medal at the Summer Games in Rio and, along with teammate Kyla Ross (London 2012), became the first two Olympic Gold medalists to compete in the NCAA. You know, just a typical year for a 19-year-old.
While Kocian has racked up many titles since she first began gymnastics as a young child, she has faced multiple obstacles to be where she is today. Starting in 2012, Kocian faced a string of injuries that followed her all the way to Rio. In February, she fractured her left tibia and her dream of making it to Rio was in doubt. She was on crutches and a boot and could not train for six weeks. As a former athlete myself, I know how difficult it is to overcome an injury, not just physically but mentally as well. But, regardless of her injuries, Kocian came back even stronger and helped Team USA win gold in the team event and snagged herself a silver in the uneven bars.
After the whirlwind that is the Olympics, athletes usually go back home and take some time off. This wasn’t the case for Kocian as she, along with her Final Five teammates, made appearance after appearance around the country. She virtually had no time to rest before she would head off to LA to start school and start training for the 2017 NCAA season.
With almost no rest in between Rio and the start of classes at UCLA, Kocian had a strong season her freshman year. She competed in the All-Around at almost every meet. Since Kocian is a bars specialist, most overlook her ability in the AA. In reality, she is highly consistent in the AA and even placed first a total of four times throughout the season. She even scored a perfect score on the uneven bars against Stanford back in early February. Her consistency helped her team secure fourth place at the NCAA Super Six.
All of this occurred at the same time she had a shoulder injury she sustained during Olympic Trials. That’s right, you didn’t read wrong, Madison Kocian competed in Rio and in college with a hurt shoulder. During Rio, nothing was ever mentioned of the injury.
She also faced a wrist injury back in 2014 that would require surgery. Along with her parents and coaches, Kocian made the decision to delay the surgery until after the World Championships. She competed that year with a major wrist injury. These are just some of the many reasons I’m completely in awe of this young lady. Despite her injuries, she continued to push through. She pushed through the injuries early in her elite career, she pushed through to Rio, and she pushed through her freshman year in college.
Yes, her life is a little different than other’s’ but not that much. She still goes through the stress of college and the exams and papers that come with it. Right now, Kocian is an undeclared major but has stated she wants to work with kids in the future. Maybe even become a pediatrician. One fact some may not know about Kocian...okay, everyone probably knows, she is a huge Texas Rangers fan. When I say huge, I mean HUGE. Her whole family also loves the Rangers. There’s even a story involving her birth and the Texas Rangers. Her father was at a game the day her mother went into labor. He had to be pulled away to get to the hospital. Now this story explains her love for the Rangers.
Eventful is probably an understatement to define the year Madison Kocian has had. Phenomenal would probably be even better. Either way, it was nothing short of spectacular. Now, it is summer vacation and she will finally have some real time off. So go ahead, Maddie, go on and enjoy your summer filled with family, friends, and, of course, some Texas Rangers baseball. You’ve earned it.