Purcellville, Va. — Daughter. Sister. Athlete. Friend.
Maddie Elias has always strived to be the best she can be in all aspects of her life.
The Loudoun Valley High School senior is the daughter of a PGA professional and former Division I softball player. Athletics is in her blood.
Growing up, softball was her passion, and she would spend hours and hours every week honing her craft alongside her sisters Erika and Natalie, and at one time, she had dreams of playing college softball. Her freshman year at Loudoun Valley, Elias made the varsity softball team where she helped the 2018 Vikings to an 18-5 finish and a VHSL 4A State tournament appearance.
On June 5, Loudoun Valley’s season ended at the hands of William Byrd High School in a state quarterfinal.
On June 6, Elias went to urgent care because she wasn’t feeling well; what her family thought was a minor issue turned out to be a mass in her abdomen that was roughly the size of a football.
Then the Elias family received shocking news: Maddie had been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
Elias’ cancer was in the form of a germ cell tumor of the yolk sac variety—something extremely rare. But Elias has always been a warrior and was going to give it her all in fighting this battle.
On June 18, the tumor and an affected lymph node were successfully removed.
On June 27, Elias began her first of three cycles of chemotherapy.
“Chemo definitely gave me a lot of maturity. I hope no one else ever has to go through it, but I’m proud of who I became afterwards,” Elias said. “It allowed me to explore who I want to become as a person. It was an experience, and I’m grateful for all that I learned, and the people I met, and the opportunities that arose from it.”
On August 23, with a resilient attitude and diligent mindset, Elias received news she was cancer free.
After beating cancer, Elias started to build up her strength and relearn all the softball mechanics she had spent so many years perfecting.
“It was difficult enough to try to get back into softball, and when I did get to the point where I was close to competing at the level I was competing at before, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Elias said. “I had been playing for so long and knew what my capabilities should be, so I had a growing, looming frustration about not being able to do the things I used to be able to do, at least not in the same way.”
After years and years of competing at the highest level of softball, Elias was ready to hang up her cleats.
While she realized softball wasn’t for her anymore, Elias was keen to build up her strength and stay active, and decided to turn in her softball bat for a golf club.
“Golf isn’t super popular for girls,” Elias said. “Now, we’re bringing it up in conversations where it never would have come up before.”
In August 2019, Elias broke 100 for the first time in a competitive round. Nine months later, she broke 90. Fast forward to December 2020 and Elias shot her lowest competitive round to date: a 76 in the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour Tournament of Champions at Pinehurst.
“When I shot a 78 and 79, I thought that was the best my game would ever get,” Elias said. “But then when I shot a 76, I know I could have shot lower than I did.”
That competitive nature—along with her family—really helped Elias through all the challenges that have been thrown her way at such a young age. Elias always prided herself on being the fastest, smartest, strongest, and most technically skilled athlete she could be, and not even cancer could take that away from her.
Elias is currently suiting up for the Loudoun Valley golf team—a team she was cut from her freshman year, yet another obstacle she had to overcome during her teenage years. Nearly four years later, on March 22, Elias shot a 9-hole round of 39 leading Loudoun Valley past Broad Run in a regular season match in Ashburn.
After graduating this summer, Elias plans on taking a gap year to continue improving her golf game while training at G2 Academy in Bluffton, South Carolina. She has her sights set on golfing at the collegiate level, while pursuing a degree in illustration and animation—another passion she picked up after her chemotherapy.
While a lot of young kids would have shied away from talking about their experiences fighting cancer, Elias has taken the bull by the horns. She has and continues to compete against herself to become the best daughter, the best sister, the best athlete, the best friend, the best golfer, and the best person she can be—and she’s doing it with a refreshing maturity and a smile on her face.
“With golf, I’m able to redefine my capabilities in a different environment. It’s a constant process of reteaching and regrowing, but I feel much more confident now,” Elias said. “I’m at a point where I think I’m past where I was before chemo, and I’m really proud of myself for that.”