Like most of the student athletes she serves, Madison Soliday had to put in the work so the program could win at the end of the day.
Her reward was the promotion to a new position called Director of Football Operations at Valparaiso University.
That journey began as an undergrad, filming games and ordering food, gaining more responsibilities as time went on. Working on the collegiate level as a student manager had its challenges, both with the workload and the elements.
“So I remember my first season, so my sophomore year, we had two games where it was just downpouring the whole time and you’re just sitting there with your little camera in torrential downpour,” Soliday said. “But it just didn’t even phase me because I love the team and I love the atmosphere.”
If there was a trait to be known for, reliability is what Soliday embodies. She strives to be that one person for athletes to come to with questions and concerns, taking problems off of their and the coaches' plates.
“And then also when players have questions about parking or class conflicts or compliance stuff, or what they should wear to walk through, or anything like that then they just say ask Madison, ask Madison,” Soliday said.
The love for the game stemmed from her youth, being raised by a father that played college football.
“So my dad played college football so I’ve always grown up loving football. So that’s where it initially stemmed from. And then my freshman year I came in as a sports management major and I knew I wanted to get involved with a sports team,” Soliday said.
Reliability was something Soliday shined in as she got older. During her junior year, she would come in and ask Coach Fox what can be done, thus establishing a working relationship with him.
“And when he came in, I just kept showing up every day and was like what can I help you with, what can I help you with, what can I help you with. And that’s when the responsibilities started increasing a little bit more dramatically because he was the new head coach and I had been with the program,” Soliday said. “So I was able to position myself in a way to be a major resource for him. I work very well with him, I respect him tremendously, he’s a great boss and I have nothing but respect for him.”
Soliday has worked closely alongside the coaches to take on their administrative roles. Scheduling meeting rooms and working on academic support are some of the small things that she takes on.
“Then another big part of my job is taking the grunt work that the coaches don’t want to do or shouldn’t have to do so that they can focus on just coaching,” Soliday said.
The role of Director of Football Operations was created for her in part because of her experience in the program.
“So I’m just excited that this position was created and now being able to mold it into my own and work with Coach Fox to create it how he wants it,” Soliday said.
Soliday expressed excitement about her new position and its opportunities to benefit the football program.
“And then it just elevates the program to a higher standard than what we had before and we’re able to give our players, coaches, and the athletics department just a better experience overall with football because it has that one person that can be the main point of contact for everyone,” Soliday said.
Soliday was happy with the success of last season, being part of a team that ended the season with the best record since 2003.
“We were really, really, really lucky last semester because we played a spring season and we got all six of our games in. And we ended up going 4-2 which was great, and expectations are high going into the fall. But the fact that we were able to play all six of our games was huge,” she said.
Soliday hopes to have more fans attend the games this year. Soliday commented that she wants to get more of the student body out to enjoy the game she has grown up to love.
“We want to find ways to get involved with the student body more and a big way to do that is having them come to games and support the team,” she said.