To watch Maddy run was to watch something beautiful. With her strength, grace and speed Maddy caught the eyes of college track recruiters all over the East. Thrilled to be accepted by a coveted Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, Maddy excitedly looked forward to her future as a college athlete at a prestigious school. Everyone expected Maddy’s college experience to be a great one, including Maddy herself.
As with so many students, though, Maddy struggled with her transition to college. The winning golden girl in high school who had fun running now found college track drudgery, with endless practices, a coach she didn’t connect with and races she didn’t win. Classes, too, were harder than she expected and soon she became anxious and unhappy at Penn. Overwhelmed with sadness and confusion even after speaking with counselors and her family, Maddy tragically died by suicide at the beginning of her spring semester.
What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan is a sensitive and compassionate portrait of a young woman with a seemingly perfect life and the secret despair that led to her suicide. It is also an exploration of mental health issues on college campuses, the unique challenges facing student athletes and the unreal expectations created by social media. While Maddy’s story will break your heart, her life and death raise important questions that deserve to be heard.