MAYFIELD — As Madison Relyea looked for her college home, it found her.
The Mayfield senior three-sport athlete — who runs in the fall and spring and is a state champion Nordic skier in the winter — signed her National Letter of Intent Thursday, committing her to the University of Connecticut, after cross country coach Lindsay Crevoiserat reached out to her last fall.
“I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to ski or run,” Relyea said in the Mayfield High School gymnasium after her signing ceremony. “That was still the question — which sport I wanted to do.”
“As soon as UConn reached out to me,” Relyea said, “I was like, ‘That’s a hundred percent [that] I want to run there.’”
Relyea had interest from Manhattan, Iona and Binghamton as a cross country and track athlete, but her heart was still searching for a potential college to compete at as a Nordic racer.
“There were some smaller schools — Saint Michael’s, St. Lawrence — but I was really wanted to go to ski at [University of Vermont],” Relyea said. “I soon realized that the opportunities in skiing are a lot slimmer. I was looking at the different people that went there … you have to be on the Olympic team really to make these college teams. It was an eye-opener.”
The Mayfield Central School District has approximately 950 students in it. At UConn, Relyea will be at a school with more than 30,000 students in Storrs, Connecticut.
“It’s going to be insane,” Relyea, laughing, said. “But I do like people and I have a big social life, so I’m excited to extend that out to Connecticut and make a lot of friends.
“It’s going to be really different there. It’s going to be an adjustment, but I think I’ll do well with the gigantic social circles that I’ll be a part of.”
Her athletic experience at Mayfield will help guide her at UConn.
“She spent a long time being the underdog, the tiny little girl, the tiny little seventh-grader that was running varsity and running against seniors,” her mom Kara Relyea said. “They were five years older than her. Now, that’s different at the college level, but she’s been that tiny little underdog before.”
And dad Chris Relyea said that experience will help her at the next level.
“She’s tenacious and you can’t intimidate her,” Chris Relyea said. “Even when she ran at the state meets, which is probably very similar to a Division I cross country meet, she stepped right up.
“She has no fear. I think she’ll rise to the occasion because she wants to beat someone, she likes to win. There is always going to be somebody to go after, to compete against.”
During her high school career, Madison Relyea won the 2020 Nordic state championship, and would have been favored to repeat in 2021 if the sport’s championship was not canceled because of restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. She competed in multiple state championships as a runner.