photo by GEORGE “CLAY” MITCHELL
Alma senior Maddie Edwards (seated) signs a NCAA Division I letter of intent to attend and swim for the Lady Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville during Friday’s pep rally at Crabtree Gymnasium. She is joined by her parents Kevin Edwards and Missy Edwards.
Alma senior Maddie Edwards signed a letter of intent with the University of Arkansas Friday morning. With her classmates looking on in a packed Crabtree Gym, Edwards signed the dotted line while her classmates gave her a University of Arkansas welcome by calling the Hogs.
The surreal moment capped a stellar high school career that will conclude next winter with the Arkansas Activities Association state finals.
Edwards had initially been recruited hard by Drury University in Springfield, Mo.
At the end of the day, however, Edwards was happy to remain close to home.
“After I went on both of my visits, I sat down and thought about it and felt like I just had a calling for Arkansas,” Edwards said. “I felt at home there. I’ve grown up as a Razorback and I just thought that would be best for me to be part of the Razorbacks family.”
Edwards expects to swim the 100 and 200 breast stroke and the 200 individual medley at Arkansas.
“The thing that was really holding me back, between Drury and Arkansas, was that Drury has won so many national championships,” Edwards said. “That was a big thing, that I wanted to be a national champion. Just the whole being in the SEC was a big (factor).”
Edwards started swimming, innocently at first, as a six-year-old with the Alma Gators. By the time she was 12, Edwards had joined the Fort Smith Tideriders team. She’s spent several years getting up at 5 o’clock and driving to Creekmore Park to be with her teammates.
Edwards is one of only two Arkansan High School swimmers to sign with the Razorbacks this year. Little Rock Mills’ Jessie Garrison, who long ago befriended Edwards, swims competitively for the Little Rock Dolphins’ swim team.
“I’m so excited that we’re both going to Arkansas,” Edwards said. “She is one of my best friends and we so excited to swim on the same team together.”