Coeur d’Alene High senior Madison Seaman still hears her father cheering for her.
Six months ago, Joe Seaman took his own life. The reasons why will forever remain a mystery, but one thing is for sure – the daughter’s love for her father remains intact.
“I am surprised at how happy I can be and how I can sit and talk about it without absolutely bawling,” Madison said. “I don’t know why and how.”
Seaman and her twin sister McKinna had ridden a rooter bus to Boise to watch the CdA football team capture a second straight state championship last November. It was halftime and Madison was standing in line at a concession stand. All of a sudden she felt compelled to call her mom at home.
Her mom didn’t answer. Moments later, Seaman’s mom returned the call.
“She said she was at work and that she would call back when she got home,” Madison said. “I kind of knew something had happened.”
Madison was returning to her seat when she saw a couple of her mom’s friends approaching.
They told Madison her father had died. They knew how, but they didn’t share any details.
“I screamed as loud as I could when they told me,” Madison said.
The next morning, an aunt gave the twins the specifics as to what happened.
“I didn’t say a word,” Madison said. “I felt everything in my body freeze and tense up.”
The family had no clue Joe was contemplating ending his life.
“When we left for Boise that day, it was just a regular day of life,” Madison said.
It’s been anything but regular since.
The family never returned to their home. Football coaches and players immediately moved the Seamans into another house.
“It’s been quite a process,” Madison said of the grieving and healing. “You go through not wanting to do anything for a while then wanting to do something but not knowing what to do.”
CdA track coach Linda Lanker marvels at how the community reached out to the Seamans.
“It’s been so great to see so many people reach out to them,” Lanker said. “Madison knows so many people were there for her.”
One hope that Madison has clung to is she knew her father wanted her to go to college and throw the shot put and discus. It’s something she has clung to in the difficult times.
In February, she and her mom visited Lane Community College, a two-year school in Eugene, Ore. For many reasons it was the right fit, including being far enough from home but close enough so she can visit.
The 6-foot-2 Seaman, whose long frame and long arms allow her added leverage when she throws, ends her high school career beginning Friday at the State 5A meet at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian. She’s heavily favored to win state championships in both events.
She uncorked her personal best in the discus, 134 feet, 7 inches, to win at the prestigious Pasco Invite in early April. Her best in the shot, 40-8, came a week later at the Coeur d’Alene Invite. In seven meets, her throws in the shot have ranged from 37-4½ to 40-8 with three more than 40.
“She’s improved unbelievably,” Lanker said. “She’s worked so hard at it. We’ve watched her get more and more dedicated over the years.”
One has to know where she started – as a raw freshman who had never had previous throwing experience – to where she is today to appreciate how far she’s come in the throws.
She surprised her mom when she told her she was turning out for track her freshman year.
“She said, ‘Maddy, you don’t run,’ ” Seaman said. “I said, ‘I know, I’m going to throw’. She didn’t know what throwing meant. My freshman year, I had no clue what I was doing. I was just out there having a good time.”
Her personal bests as a freshman were 30-10 in the shot and 81-6 in the discus.
She took second in the shot (36-5½) and fourth in the discus (121-4) at state last year.
“My junior year is when everything started happening for me,” she said.
She’s excited about state.
“Anybody can have a good day and anybody can have a bad day, but I’m hoping to win,” she said. “I want to win three state titles – in the shot, the discus and as a team.”
Not long after her father’s death, Madison Seaman had a revelation.
“I felt like he wouldn’t want me to sit around in my sorrows and be mad all the time,” she said. “It hurt a lot, but I grew up as fast as I could. There were days I was happy in the day, but I’d cry myself to sleep at night. We’re still working through it in a lot of ways. Everything can only stop for so long. At some point life has to continue.”
That’s why it never entered her mind to walk away from track.
“I throw because that’s something my dad always wanted to see me do,” she said. “That’s why I’m going to keep throwing. I dedicated the season to him.”