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House on the Hill: Coast to Coast

Nov. 18, 2013

When Madeline Fahan flew from her home in Ventura, Calif., to the East Coast to start visiting colleges, she had her heart set on spending the next four years walking around a picturesque campus filled with brick buildings, a spacious quad surrounded by blossoming trees and having a closet filled with tank tops and cozy, warm sweaters to accompany the change in seasons.

"I looked at all the schools in California and nothing really appealed to me," Fahan admitted. "You have this image in your head. None I saw out there looked like that. They are mostly state schools or big campuses in cities."

A strong academic reputation, known for its liberal arts curriculum, topped her list of wants too, as did playing Division I basketball.

She loved Princeton but was not admitted and, having missed the first signing period, had to re-adjust her process.

Fahan took a lot of deep breaths, buried her disappointment and focused on finding a great fit. It was Lafayette.

With a roster spot still open, then-head coach Tammy Smith and assistant coach Jen Wedo flew Fahan across the country so she could meet everyone, see the campus, [comma?] and get a feel for whether she wanted to be a Leopard for the next few years.

It didn't take Fahan, now 22, long to know College Hill was the place she belonged.

"It was a perfect fit all around," Fahan said. "I'm so happy it didn't work out at Princeton.

"Lafayette had the connections I wanted, the location, the classes and all the other opportunities I've had. I'm so glad it ended up being Lafayette. It was a blessing in disguise."

Fahan's impact on the court has been key for the Leopards, who improved to 4-0 on Sunday with a 48-45 win over host University of Pittsburgh. The 5-foot-11 senior guard, making her first start of the season after nursing an ankle injury, drained a jumper with a minute to play, extending Lafayette's lead to four.

Katarina Witt and Fahan during the filming of "The Diplomat," a Nine for IX film.

The opportunities she has gotten outside of basketball courtesy of Lafayette have been just as beneficial and memorable as those on the court.

This summer, Fahan spent a day shadowing Carol Stiff, who has worked at ESPN for 22 years and is now the vice president of content program and integration at espnW. While Fahan was at the network's studios in Bristol, Conn., Stiff's crew was filming and researching a segment for Nine for IX, a film series that aired this summer which was inspired by the 40th anniversary of Title IX. That day, former Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt was at the studio, and Fahan was by her side for much of the day.

"What I took away the most was I really didn't know much about what went into creating Title IX," Fahan said. "I didn't know (who) Katarina Witt (was). But being a female athlete at Lafayette, now I know these women and what they were talking about and they are the ones who gave me the chance to be here doing what I'm doing on the basketball team."

Although Fahan is an economics major, she's drawn to certain aspects of the media, and has found herself at the center of two other communications opportunities. She has an internship this semester in Lafayette's sports information office, and through one of her economics classes, is taking part in a project that is culminating with several interviews, including one on Monday with Lafayette President Alison Byerly.

The project centers around the debate that the Millenial Generation, which Fahan is a part of, is often stereotyped as being lazy and entitled and glued to smart phones and the Internet. Fahan's group, though, is arguing the opposing viewpoint, which John Zogby has presented in his book, "First Globals." Zogby argues that the Millenial generation is doing something never done before, making use of technology and benefiting from it, whether it's through social media or how the group networks.

"We chose (Byerly) because she used to work at MIT and knows a lot about classroom technology and reaches out to students that way," Fahan said.

"She's really involved and connects with our generation that way. In that way, too, I probably never would have gotten to meet her or talk to her on a personal level if not for this project."

Fahan isn't sure which direction her degree will take her when May rolls around. But former teammate and close friend Melissa Downey, who graduated in 2012, said Fahan could attack any career and succeed.

"She's very determined," said Downey, who's now getting her degree in pharmacy at Temple. "If she wants something bad enough, she'll get it. She'll do whatever it takes. She has a relentless attitude."

By Mandy Housenick

House on the Hill