Surrounded by friends, family, teammates, coaches, teachers and classmates, Madelyn Gortemoller signed an official commitment with University of Mobile Wednesday morning.
Gortemoller, a multi-sport athlete at Port St. Joe High School, has competed in the state track meet, won four district track championships, scored more than 35 goals in soccer and won three district championships in cross country during her time as a Tiger Shark. She signed a scholarship to compete on the University of Mobile’s track and field team starting next academic year.
“I just want to thank everyone – all my teachers, and school administration, and coaches, and family, and friends and church members,” she said. “Thank you everyone for coming out and supporting me.”
Gortemoller overcame severe scoliosis in her childhood, which required her to undergo spinal surgery at age 11.
Her recovery process was long, but in a speech before the gathered crowd, Gortemoller said that her passion for sports and her faith had helped her overcome the adversity.
“I had to learn how to rewalk again. It took several days just to relearn how to walk,” she said. “Just a few weeks earlier, I was playing softball and soccer, and now just to walk from one end of the hallway to the other was a struggle. I was very discouraged.”
“But I look back now, and I’m like ‘God was in control of the whole situation.’”
The University of Mobile is a private Christian institution, where Gortemoller says she is looking forward to continuing to practice and develop her faith.
Keion McNair, Port St. Joe’s cross country coach and co-head coach of the school’s track and field team, described Gortemoller as a driven runner.
“I have coached a lot of students, and I can honestly say, you have been one of the hardest working runners that I have ever been able to coach,” he said to Gortemoller before she signed her contract. “There’s nothing that I tell you to do that you will not go over and beyond.”
The crowd broke out in applause as Gortemoller signed the paperwork. Guests took photos with the runner and caught up with each other as the event drew to a close.