Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
The warm sunshine beams down upon the tropical waters off the coast of San Diego, as Ohio State softball shortstop Maddy McIntyre sits on a surf board, bobbing in the Pacific Ocean and waiting for the next wave to ride.
The serenity the ocean offers is a far cry from the stress of finals week or the pressure of hundreds of screaming fans.
“(Surfing) is just a good way to take a break from everything,” McIntyre said. “Sometimes you’re out on the softball field or sometimes it gets intense with school and everything, so it’s just the best way to fall back and just relax. The feeling I get when I drop in is priceless.”
McIntyre, a sophomore from San Diego, has started every game but one in her two-year OSU career. She’s a career .265 hitter with a .944 fielding percentage from her middle infield position. But while softball might be her first love, surfing has morphed from a fun hobby into something much more important to McIntyre.
“It’s definitely her passion,” said senior teammate and third baseman Megan Coletta. “She really misses it (when she’s in Ohio) and she has a lot of passion for it and knowledge about the ocean.”
McIntyre’s passion started at age 12, off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. It was there she first received personalized instruction with surfing trainers who immediately recognized her talent and passion for the sport. They encouraged her to keep riding when she returned home to California. Her father made sure that became a reality.
“For one of my birthdays, my dad got me a board, and it was the best thing. He couldn’t keep me out of the water after that,” McIntyre said.
She and her father – an avid surfer himself – have used their passions for surfing to develop an even tighter bond. They usually go in the summers, fitting in a quick, two-hour session before Marc McIntyre drops his daughter off back home and heads to work. The father-daughter surfing time is something they both cherish.
“It’s awesome,” Marc McIntyre said. “She’s a better surfer than I am, but it’s still fun just being out there in the water with her. It makes you think, ‘It doesn’t get much better than this.'”
The landlocked qualities of Columbus make surfing during softball season impossible for Maddy McIntyre, so when she gets home to San Diego, she feels like she has to make up for lost time.
“I get really excited to surf when I go home,” Maddy McIntyre said. “But at home, everyone gets so mad, like, ‘Oh, the waves suck today,’ so they won’t go out. But now, for me, it’s like even if the waves suck, I still want to go out because I’m not out there very often.”
Her father said she will go out at every opportunity when she’s home. Whenever she can get someone to go with her, be it morning, noon or night, she’ll hit the waves.
OSU softball coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she loves her shortstop’s passion for surfing, and encourages her to keep up with it as much as possible. When Schoenly takes recruiting trips to Calif., which is fairly frequently, Maddy McIntyre is often there, badgering her coach to catch some waves with her.
“It’s really cool we have kids with such different passions,” Schoenly said. “I’ve never really known surfing, so when I hear about the waves, and just the love that she has for it, I’m really excited for her to have that.”
For someone who is used to having all eyes on her whenever she competes, surfing offers Maddy McIntyre the chance to drop in and do what she loves, away from the fandom.
“The thing I like most about (surfing) is it doesn’t have to be competitive,” Maddy McIntyre said. “I don’t have to go out and have to perform. I can go for something great and I don’t have to worry if I don’t land it, or if the wave eats me up, it doesn’t matter, I can just have fun with it.”
Schoolwork and softball might be Maddy McIntyre’s primary focuses during the year, but once summer rolls around, her childhood passion takes center stage. Her bat and glove get swapped for a board, and her No. 30 jersey gets traded for a bathing suit.
For Maddy McIntyre, summer is nearly here – the sun is out and the ocean beckons.