In the thoughtfully considered world of Madison Ferguson, VCHS Class of ’22 graduate and reigning IHSA State Girls Bowling Champion, deliberate decision upon deliberate decision has led her to where she is today. She began laying the foundation for success when her Kindergartner-self brought home a flier for youth bowling.
Building a life,
Interestingly, since nobody in her family bowled at that time, this became ‘her thing.’ With many rides to the bowling alley, fittings for increasingly-heavier bowling balls, and still more trips to the bowling alley, she became a bona fide bowler. Quite literally frame-by-frame.
But there were larger lessons here that she was quietly assimilating. That brings to mind a book about management written nearly 40-years ago by Spencer Johnson and Ken Blanchard, in which the authors likened poor management to a sheet held in front of the bowling pins at the end of a lane, obscuring the view. The employee hurls the ball down the lane, hears a big crash as the ball disappears behind the sheet, and the manager holds up five fingers and says, “FIVE.” Not the kind of feedback from which an employee, eager to do well, would likely benefit. “Five down or five up? Which five?”
Back in Madison’s thoughtful world, there was no sheet blocking the view, so every time the ball crashed into the pins, she harvested feedback she could use on the next throw. She’s gotten a lot of feedback, and it’s not just about bowling. With each decision she’s made on the lanes, she’s quietly been assembling her executive formula for considering options, vetting the best approach, and committing to a path. And this formula serves her equally well on and off the lanes.
As a sophomore, she discovered a love for photography. Then she refined that interest to sports photography. Soon after, she determined that football photography was her specialty. I asked her if she pans with her subjects— kind of a geeky way for me to connect with her through our shared love of photography but, to my surprise, she does me one better and says, “Yes, but I’ve found that my best technique is to simply follow ONE player through several sets of downs and work to get the best shots there before moving on to other players.” Wow. I’ve been shooting for decades, and that approach had never occurred to me.
On reflection, I see Madison’s definition emerge with real clarity: she is a bowler, for sure, but much more than that, she is a person who has been playing a mentally intense game of strategy at such a competitive level for so long that its frame-by-frame nature has somehow fused itself to how she reads opportunity and adjusts to make the most of it.
This Fall, she heads to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee in pursuit of a well-considered (of course) career in Accounting. Ever the refiner, she’s leaning toward Forensic Accounting and sees herself maybe working one day with the FBI. She’s also keeping her eye on the possibility of joining the Professional Women’s Bowling Tour. Either way, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Quantico, Virginia when the other new recruits ask Madison if she’d like to join them after work for a game or two at the bowling alley. Pretty sure I know who’s not picking up the tab!