Why We Play: Maddie Goings (Oregon State Volleyball)

OSU Volleyball senior outside hitter Maddie Goings sets the ball. 

By: Andres De Los Santos, Sports Contributor

Many athletes say that they were born into the sport that they play, but for Maddie Goings, Oregon State’s senior outside hitter on the volleyball team, that was literally the case. 

“My mom was a high school [volleyball] coach,” Goings said. “When I was born, she was actually at a volleyball game, and that night, she had just come home from a really tough playoff game. And then she went to labor, and then she got her doctor to release her two days later so that she could be back on the court coaching again.”

Between watching her mother coach and watching her sister play, Goings grew up in an environment dominated by volleyball. So it is no surprise that both her mom and her sister had an influence on Goings pursuing an athletic career in volleyball.  

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“My mom got me into playing volleyball. Well, my mom and my sister, really,” Goings said. “I was basically passed around in the stands as a kid, and watching my sister play volleyball too growing up. It’s a family thing.” 

Goings’ first exposure to volleyball was her attending her mother’s volleyball practices. And when she turned eight years old, Goings got her start as a player and joined her first volleyball team. 

“I started playing [volleyball] really young. I was just hitting balls in the gym when my mom was teaching practice,” Goings said. “Team-wise, I started with the YMCA around eight years old, and I played up.” 

Playing for a team and being exposed to a team environment at such a young age would only help Goings in her early career as an athlete. In high school, Goings was coached by her mother, the same woman who got Goings into playing the sport. 

“I was coached by my mom all throughout high school,” Goings said. I was on varsity all four years of high school, and I was [the] captain my last two years.” 

Although Goings credits high school volleyball playing an important role in getting recruited at the next level, she also feels that getting involved in club volleyball is what helped her take her career to the next level. 

“High school works for recruiting, yes, but I would say that club [volleyball] advances that a lot because you’re able to travel more to club tournaments and that’s where [college] coaches really get to see you.” 

It was club volleyball that helped Goings decide where to pursue her athletic career. That, and a little help from her club teammate, who convinced Goings to attend one of the volleyball camps that Oregon State was hosting. 

“I came into contact with Oregon State through one of my club teammates. Kylee Mclaughlin, she actually played here [at OSU] as a freshman,” Goings said. “But she was telling me about how I need to come to this amazing camp that she went to the previous year, and how the coaches are amazing. So I came up here and I went to their elite camp that they were having… and I absolutely fell in love with Oregon. And I fell in love with the coaches. They were amazing.” 

Playing at Oregon State, and playing at the Division One level, was a dream come true for Goings. The work and effort she had put into her sport since she was eight years old were starting to pay off. But because she decided to pursue her athletic career in volleyball, she had to let go of another potential athletic career: soccer. 

“I knew I wanted to play a D1 sport as a kid, but I was also heavily involved with soccer up until high school,” Goings said. “And during high school, I had to decide whether I wanted to keep continuing with volleyball or keep continuing with soccer, and so that was one of the biggest decisions I had. But I overall continued with volleyball, because [of the] scholarships that I had coming for that, and I really didn’t want my parents to pay for college.” 

Despite having to let soccer go, Goings feels as if she truly made the right decision, in part because of how she already had some exposure to Oregon State and how they run their program. Still, adjusting to becoming a division one athlete, and to the concept of college, was a difficult task at first for Goings. 

“Well just in general, college, it took a while to adjust to that because it’s such a high level, and it’s so fast, and people are so big, and they know the sports so well because everyone is here for the same reason that I am,” Goings said. “And so I’m competing with the best of the best. So it was a little bit different pace getting into the groove of getting things done.” 

What helped Goings make the adjustment to the college game were her teammates, who made sure they did everything in their power to make her and the new incoming volleyball players included in everything. 

“They were very friendly,” Goings said. “They were really helpful and welcoming us and housing us and getting us to explore Oregon, because a lot of us weren’t from Oregon. So we got to explore the Portland area, but also the Corvallis area and what’s fun and what’s not.” 

Since then, Goings’ life has revolved around volleyball, making sure that she is ready for every game, and making sure that she is in the best shape possible to compete in Gill Coliseum. The lifelong volleyball athlete struggles to remember the details of her first college game, but reflecting on the atmosphere in Gill, there was one thing that she remembers clearly: the crowd.

“I couldn’t even tell you who it was against, but I remember just the fans and the crowd, like that is what brought me here and what I wanted to play for,” Goings said. 

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, whenever volleyball season does pick up again, there most likely will not be any fans in attendance, an idea that Goings has struggled with entering into her senior year with the Beavers. 

“One of my biggest things is that my parents and my siblings, through my whole life, they’ve been there to support me,” Goings said. “One of the biggest things with having a COVID season is fans not being there, and that’s my biggest problem. I won’t be able to play for the last time in front of my family, so that’s the biggest struggle.” 

But despite a season impacted by COVID, potentially no fans in attendance, and with it being her senior year, Goings is trying her best not to get too sentimental about the whole situation, saying that she does not want to let her emotions get to her at the wrong time. 

“I just haven’t been wanting to get too sentimental about all of it being my last this and last that. I will get that mentality soon, but it’s been hard with COVID interrupting all this because it’s putting us on hold,” Goings said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up and get all sentimental for COVID just to push us back more. So until I know it feels absolutely real, and I know that we’re going to start, then my emotions will set in about that.” 

But until volleyball season starts, Goings will be focusing on practicing and becoming the best volleyball player she can be. After all, the sport has done so much for her, and still stands as an important part of her life. 

“Volleyball, to me, is an outlet. It’s a way to really be with myself,” Goings said. “It’s a way to relieve stress or anything that’s kind of going on outside. It’s where I can be with myself even though I am with my teammates. But it’s where I get active and my mind is focused [on] what I’m doing [at] the moment.” 

Even though Goings considers volleyball as a sort of peaceful outlet, that does not mean that the competitive appeal has been lost. The senior views volleyball as a competition as fierce as they come, but for Goings, she would not have it any other way.

“I stuck with volleyball because it’s really competitive, and I come from a really competitive family background,” Goings said.  “We’re all really competitive people. So I just love the competitive aspect of it. I love being able to be smart with your shots, and being able to read the other side so well. Like what’s their weaknesses? I like being able to pick that apart and being able to place things here and place things here. It gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s my happy place for me.”