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Maddie Pierce: More than an athlete


Senior Maddie Pierce has been rowing at IU for over three years. Pierce has helped the team finish in the top five every year at the Big Ten Championships and has been a part of three NCAA Championship qualifying teams. Peter Talbot

Maddie Pierce has been rowing at IU for more than three years. 

In that time, she’s helped the team finish in the top five every year at the Big Ten Championships, has been a part of three NCAA Championship qualifying teams and was recently inducted into one of the nation’s most prestigious academic societies.

Pierce, a speech and hearing sciences major, will graduate this spring. After graduation, she plans to pursue her master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

She has twice been named a Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Scholar Athlete. She was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. 

"Being inducted to Phi Beta Kappa was a huge honor," Pierce said. "There have been many influential people throughout American history who were Phi Beta Kappa members, so it is very exciting to join such a prestigious organization."

The Phi Beta Kappa Society was founded in 1776. Its eligibility requires a 3.85 GPA with 75 hours of coursework in the liberal arts and sciences, or a 3.75 GPA with 105 hours of liberal arts and sciences coursework.

"I could not have done it without the help of the IU Athletics Academic support staff," Pierce said. "I am so thankful that IU Athletics recognizes that we are students before we are athletes and for the academic support that I received from the department during my undergraduate career."

On top of her studies, Pierce has volunteered her time to help people in need. Her freshman year, she participated in the Coach for College program. Coach for College is a service learning program where student-athletes from the United States partner with Vietnamese university students to teach academics, sports and life skills to disadvantaged children at summer camps in rural Vietnam. She said the trip made her cherish how life is in the U.S. compared to other countries.

"The experience was definitely humbling for me," said Pierce. "It's amazing that people live like that and it was eye-opening for me to see that I live in such luxury. We have so many blessings over here that we don't even think about, but at the same time people in countries like Vietnam live their lives without thinking about what we have."

Pierce returned from the trip with a better appreciation for IU and rowing. She gained perspective into how other people around the world live.

Pierce started her freshman year in the first novice eight. She helped the team get second in four events, as well as fourth in the Big Ten Championships and 15th in the NCAA Championships.

After her freshman year, Pierce was moved to the second varsity eight. There she won two events and finished second in two others. Midway through the year she got moved up to the first varsity fours. The team struggled after the switch, third place being their highest finish. They did manage to finish first at the NCAA Championship semifinal, before placing 14th overall. 

Pierce went back to the second varsity eight her junior year and stayed there the whole season. The second varsity eight didn’t have a finish below fifth place, including five second place finishes and a first place finish in the Dale England Cup in Bloomington. In her third NCAA Championship appearance, the team placed 16th overall.

While top-five finishes and going to the NCAA Championships every year of her career is something she Pierce said she is proud of, it is her work outside that water that fulfills her the most.

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