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A sporting life for Guelph high school student

Madison Howell hopes that playing competitive golf will lead to a scholarship in the U.S. to pursue her number one passion, football

When Madison Howell was born, a golf putter was neatly placed next to her, inside her bassinet.

Not surprising, that since then, golf has played a big part in the 16-year-old’s life.  

Howell competed in the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour, (MJT) Canada’s number one Junior Golf Tour, at Settler’s Ghost Golf Club in Barrie last month.

Among the top finishers. Howell came in third place in the MJT Girls 15-19 age category.

“It was a very good tournament, but the course was pretty challenging,” Howell said.

“It was probably the most challenging that I have played on the MJT Tour. I have played in seven tournaments of this tour this summer, and I have two left to go, plus a team challenge.”

The MJT is the only national junior tour run exclusively by PGA of Canada Professionals and the ‘Road to College Golf’ in Canada. It hosts 100 events across Canada, including multi-day events for competitive players aged 11-19 with qualifiers for international tournaments.

The program has annual awards, scholarships, and incentives to help reward performance and participation throughout each season. MJT alumni include many professional tour players and PGA of Canada Professionals, as well as Canadian Amateur, National and Provincial Junior Champions.

“It was a great experience. It was fun but just a very difficult course. I really had to work on course management skills to figure out what to do,” Howell said.

“When I was younger, I was with another Canadian junior tour and then switched to this one because it has become Canada’s number one played, and the alumni that are there, are all really impressive.”

Howell’s parents introduced their daughter to sports at a very young age. She began golfing when she was just three years old.

“Madison is really passionate about sports. My husband introduced her to golf. He’s a golfer too. It’s always been a big part of her life. She’s really grown into the game and has come so far. It’s been really exciting for us,” said Madison’s mother, Elaine.

But when it comes to sports, golf isn’t Howell’s only passion.

She hopes playing competitive golf will lead to a scholarship in the U.S. to pursue her favourite sport, football.

The Grade 12 GCVI student is an assistant coach for the school's football team.

“About two years ago, I thought why not make a career out of it, because I know so much. I started coaching the U16 Junior Gryphons as a defensive assistant, and then I started coaching my high school’s team as an offensive line coach. And I just worked with the U18 Men’s Tackle Junior Gryphons team as an assistant offensive line coach too,” Howell said.

In two weeks, Howell looks forward to coaching her high school team again.

“I want to use golf to get me further in football. I have always had a passion for the game. I grew up with it. It was something my dad got me into. My parents have always loved it. They were married in a football stadium, on the 50-yard line at the Dallas Texas Stadium,” Howell said.  

“Everything in our household has always been about football.”

Howell says her goal is to become a defensive line coach in the NFL.

“And as well, I would like to obtain a sports law degree, so if I don’t want to coach anymore, I have something else I can fall back on. I am also thinking about becoming a sports agent to represent NFL players, or maybe even manage an NFL team,” she said.

Howell is grateful for the support she has received from family and friends.

“A lot of my friends are not so super into sports, but they are always there for me. And my best friend has been on every football team that I have coached. He has been my number one supporter since I started coaching,” Howell said.

“My friends are all extremely supportive of what I do.”

As for golf, Howell has been busy helping run a golf camp for kids, ages four to 12, at Cutten Fields in Guelph throughout the summer.

“I love the independence that the sport of golf has given me. As much as I am a social person and enjoy spending time with my friends, I just love being out on the course. It's so peaceful. Every day of the week, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I get to the course for 6:45, I practice till 9, and then I help run the summer camp. I've made some really great friends," Howell said.

"I have two more regular tournaments left this summer and then I have the MJT National Team Challenge where I will be playing on the Sawmill Golf Academies’ Team in September. And I will also have high school competitions including OFSAA, if I can qualify." 

Howell enjoys competing and the community that it creates. 

"At every tournament, everyone can relate to each other. And I’ve been able to connect to girls that I never would have met if I wasn’t doing tournaments. And I just really love the atmosphere,” Howell said.

Howell says even if things don’t go so well, each tournament becomes a learning experience to be proud of.

“I hope to go somewhere big in football, in a program where I am able to golf, win some tournaments, and coach football,” Howell said.

“Sports will always be a huge part of my life.”