NEWTON — Madison Beatrice stands out at Newton North High School. Not only does she shine on the softball field and the basketball court, starting on the varsity for both teams, but she also has 10 siblings, coming from one of the largest families in the area.
Both parts of her life have contributed to who she is today. Starting at first base and point guard for the Tigers, along with developing an outgoing personality like her siblings, has made her a well-known figure in Newton.
But Beatrice and her family have become well-known for other, more unfortunate reasons. Jeffrey Beatrice, Madison’s father, died in October 2009, leaving the family in a serious state of financial uncertainty that culminated in the near-foreclosure of their home.
Since then, a swell of community support involving donations and fundraisers has kept the family afloat. Today, the Beatrice home is no longer at risk, and they have found some semblance of stability thanks to that support and a great deal of strength from Madison’s mother, Elinor Beatrice.
“We’re doing a lot better now. It’s obviously still hard, but my mom is always there. She was probably the one that handled it the best out of everyone,” Madison said. “We get scholarships for sports fees, so that helps. And food stamps help. The house is okay now, and a lot of that is thanks to the support from the community.”
But more than two years removed from her father’s death and with her family stable, the Newton North junior still holds the memory of her father close to her. Along with her athletic accomplishments and the size of her family, his passing and the edge it has given her is part of what makes her stand out.
“To have that fight in me, that motivation — I feel I could be stronger than other people. I’ll always have something to motivate me,” Madison said. “If someone made a mistake, they might want to fix it. But I don’t need something else to motivate me — I have that one thing.”
That fight comes from a childhood filled with memories of her father pushing her to excel in athletics. Now, as she looks forward to her remaining time at Newton North, those memories are helping her on the field.
“I definitely think of him more often,” she said. “I know he would want the best for me and want me to do my best and work hard. And I always want to do that for him.”
Part of doing her best will be helping the softball team replicate or even improve upon its semifinals appearance in 2009. Unfortunately, 2010 and 2011 brought early exits in the quarterfinals and the opening round, respectively.
Last season ended with that 7-2 loss to Central Catholic, but the Tigers have roared out of the gate with a record of 3-1, putting them atop the Carey Division of the Bay State League early in the season.
That record includes wins over division rival Braintree and Bay State foe Walpole. The 11-5 victory over Braintree on Monday was particularly sweet for the Tigers, as softball coach Lauren Baugher considers the Wamps the primary roadblock between Newton North and a Bay State League title.
“Our goal is to win the Bay State League, as always,” the 16-year coach said. “Of course, Braintree will be our biggest competition.”
Despite the early success, the Tigers would have little hope if not for leaders like Beatrice. After her first year at the varsity level in 2010, Baugher is not at all surprised that the junior is helping to bring the team together.
“I feel like so many times girls can be mean or snobby, and [Madison]’s just such a nice person — she’s very genuine. I wish more kids were like that. It’s very refreshing,” Baugher said. “Her personality’s contagious and infectious, and people just want to be around her. I think because she’s dealt with a lot of adversity in her life, it’s something that people respect.”
Of course, Madison doesn’t take all the credit for her success. Her family has played a big role in her development, especially since her father’s death. Being a middle child in such a large family, she has worked hard to fill the shoes of the six Beatrice children who have already made their way through Newton North.
Her sister, Corinne Beatrice, just graduated last spring after being Madison’s teammate on the softball team for two years. Madison considers Corinne her closest sibling and still values the support her sister provides.
“There was always that sibling competitiveness, so that helped me a lot,” Madison said. “If I do something bad or don’t achieve something, Corinne is all over me for it.”
With Corinne finishing her freshman year at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Madison has leaned even more on her mother, who has provided support for the whole family since Madison’s father passed away.
“She’s a big motivation in my life. She is my role model. She’s literally the strongest person I know,” Madison said. “She knows [my dad] played a big role in all the athletics, so now she’s the one stepping up.”
Her mother’s strength has even made an impact on Baugher.
“I give her mom so much credit for so many reasons. She’s always there,” Baugher said. “Some kids don’t have a parent go [to games], but her mom has so much on her plate all the time and she’s always there. She’s always at the games.”
Of course, when Madison steps out on the field, it’s hard not to have her father watching from the sidelines.
“Last year for basketball, there was a day that all the parents can come in and watch us practice. And my mom had something to do that day, and obviously my dad — and he was the one person that I wanted to come. Obviously he couldn’t,” Madison said, her eyes welling up at the memory. “It was really frustrating to see all the other parents watch their kids play. It felt like I was the only person who couldn’t have that experience.”
But as hard it becomes for Madison to compete without her father by her side, she knows he still comes alive in her own achievements.
“There have been moments, especially in times of pressure — like we need this basket to win or we need this run to get in or we need this out to end the game,” Madison said. “That’s when I think of him most.”