Tuesday, July 14, 2020
July 14, 2020

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Senior Salute: Clay Madsen led by example as three-sport athlete at Ridgefield

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
4 Photos
Ridgefield's Clay Madsen tries to beat out a throw in a 2A district championship baseball game Friday at Propstra Stadium. Ridgefield won 4-2.
Ridgefield's Clay Madsen tries to beat out a throw in a 2A district championship baseball game Friday at Propstra Stadium. Ridgefield won 4-2. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Clay Madsen is now a graduate of Ridgefield High School, even though the ending didn’t go how he originally thought.

Ridgefield High School held a virtual commencement ceremony on Friday night. And while it was unlike any other graduation ceremony in previous years, it still turned out to be a special night for Madsen.

“Personally I loved it,” Madsen said. “It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. It was very well organized. And the parade was pretty cool, having your friends and family out there to support us as we drove up Main Street and down Hillhurst. … It was different, but I would almost suggest doing something similar in the future because they pulled it off really well.”

The cap on the evening was the biggest surprise for Madsen, a three-sport athlete, competing in football, wrestling and baseball for the Spudders.

Madsen was awarded the first STEP award at Ridgefield, given to “the student-athlete that best represents what it means to be a Spudder” through sportsmanship, teamwork, excellence and perseverance 

“I had no idea it was coming,” Madsen said. “I had never even heard about it until I walked onto the stage. … I didn’t even know what it was for until I looked down and read the plaque. I felt privileged to receive it, but I think there are a lot more kids at Ridgefield who deserve it just as much as I did.”

Baseball was Madsen’s first love.

“I started playing baseball when I was four years old,” he said. “So this would have been my 14th season playing.”

He joined the wrestling team his sophomore year at Ridgefield.

“I didn’t have anything to do over the winter,” he said. “So I decided to give wrestling a shot and see how it goes. I’m glad I did.”

But football developed into his favorite sport to play.

“It’s just about being a team,” Madsen said of football. “And having the hometown crowd there watching you, it’s just louder and more intense. I love that.”

While he was glad to experience his senior season in football — earning a first-team all-league honor at linebacker — and wrestling, the loss of his final baseball year took a heavy toll.

Senior Salute

Each week through June, Tim Martinez will spotlight a different high school senior athlete.

If you know of a senior who deserves some attention, send it to tim.martinez@columbian.com or send a direct message on Twitter to @360TMart.

After reaching the state quarterfinals last year, the Spudders were aiming for an even bigger finish in 2020.

“The disappointment factor from not getting to play was through the roof,” he said. “I can’t explain the frustration I had.”

But at least he had memories from a great four years at Ridgefield.

In football, it was a 24-21 win over Washougal that helped propel the Spudders into the playoffs.

In wrestling, it was reaching the state tournament as a junior.

“Wrestling in the Tacoma Dome with all the mats on the floor and thousands of people watching, that will get your adrenaline pumping,” he said. “You’ll be sweating before you even get on the mat.”

In baseball, it was a 1-0 win over W.F. West in the first round of state last year, particularly one inning when the Spudders escaped a runner-on-third-with-no-out jam with an inning-ending double play.

“I remember being at third base and watching the play,” Madsen said. “Then I looked into the dugout and I see (assistant) coach Bill Alley walking out of the dugout with his fists in the air. That put a smile on my face. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”

Madsen leaves later this week for a month-long stint working for a fishing guide in Alaska. After returning home, he plans to prepare for a two-year church mission.

“I’m really excited about that,” he said.

Clay Madsen has a lot to look forward to. But his experience as a three-sport athlete at Ridgefield, also gives him something to look back on — the friendships, the memories and the competition.

“Playing three sports was definitely more of a struggle than most people realize,” he said. “It can be hard to stay motivated all the time. But in the end, you are 100 percent glad you stuck with it.”

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at (360) 735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.