E.A. Sports Today

Something bigger

Jacksonville’s Fisher looks ahead to opportunities to come at, and because of, Dartmouth. Holt channels sixth-grade self to explain opportunity she never saw coming with Gadsden State cross country.

Cover photo: Jacksonville head football coach Clint Smith talks during Wednesday’s National Signing Day ceremony to honor Ky’dric Fisher (left) and Maddie Holt. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville High’s National Signing Day ceremony had the speeches, memorabilia tables, snacks and personal stories.

It also had that something-bigger feel.

Ky’dric Fisher signed to play football for Dartmouth, an Ivy League school.

Maddie Holt signed to follow her full-ride offer to run cross country at Gadsden State Community College.

The two Golden Eagle athletics became part of the roughly three percent of high school athletes who get the chance to play their sport beyond high school, but both gave the feel of young people ready to parlay their opportunities into something bigger.

They also gave the feel that their journeys to this point owe to wider circles.

Fisher, an all-state wide receiver, earned his way to Dartmoth with a 3.89 GPA.

“I’m kind of mad about that,” he joked. “I want that 3.9.”

He plans to major in economics but also plans to take premed courses with an eye toward physical therapy.

“If I don’t feel like going to school anymore, I’ll follow economics,” he said. “Or I could go on and transfer somewhere, get my doctorate and go into physical therapy.”

Jacksonville football coach Clint Smith called Fisher’s catching on at Dartmouth “an outstanding accomplishment.”

Ky’ric Fisher with his parents at Jacksonville High’s National Signing Day ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)

“It’s one of the top-three universities in the United States,” he said. “It costs $88,000 a year to go to Dartmouth, and he’s going to get to go and do that.

“When he finishes and gets that degree from Dartmouth, he’s going to be able to do whatever he wants to do, whatever job he wants to have, and he’s setting himself up for life.” 

As much as Fisher’s journey appears headed for big things, he knows it’s bigger than him.

Perhaps no two positions in any sport are more codependent than quarterback and wide receiver, and Fisher grew up with Jim Ogle. Ogle passed his way to a chance to play FBS football at Louisiana-Monroe, where he enrolled in December, and Fisher caught so many of his passes through years dating back to feeder levels.

In high school, Fisher caught 39 of Ogle’s 107 career touchdown passes and was on the receiving end for 3,057 of Ogle’s 9,089 career passing yards. 

With Ogle throwing passes in Monroe, La. Fisher will catch passes just out of Ogle’s range, in Hanover, N.H.

“I think about it all the time,” Fisher said. “It’s kind of how that works.

“As kids, we were going to the field in our spare time, and to us, it wasn’t extra work. To us, it was just having fun, so it’s just a blessing.”

Maddie Holt with her parents at Jacksonville High’s National Signing Day ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)

As for Holt’s journey, her high school coach spelled it as an acronym … M-A-D-D-I-E. 

Jill Green’s talk at Wednesday’s ceremony included words like “Motivated,” “Mentor,” “Attitude,” ”Driven,” “Devoted,” “Improved,” 110 percent “Effort” and “Encouraging.” 

“She encourages everybody,” Green said. “When you are at a race, you’ll hear Maddie over anybody, everybody.

“Cross country is different than any sport. We’re family. She’ll go back there and encourage everybody: ‘C’mon! C’mon!’ It don’t even have to be somebody from our team. I just think that’s really great.”

Holt thanked every teammate and coach, school and private. She talked about her journey from being a track athlete at the Jacksonville Community Center, as a sixth-grader. 

She laughed when telling the story of her asthma attack the day Gadsden State’s assistant coach came to see her.

“He was like, ‘Hi, I’m from Gadsden. What’s up?’” she said. “I was like, ’Hi, this is the worst possible race you could’ve came to.’”

He invited her for a tour, told her he’d been watching her for “a few years” and offered her a full ride.

“I was like, ‘What?!’” she said. “Elementary-school-track Maddie would’ve never saw this coming in a million years. She didn’t even think this was possible. … She would’ve been astounded.’

“I’m really, really grateful for this opportunity. I never saw it coming.”

Memorabilia tables for Jacksonville’s Ky’dric Fisher and Maddie Holt at the school’s National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday. (Photos by Joe Medley)

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