Feb. 9, 2010

Maddie Buttinger is a sophomore track and field athlete from Ontario, Canada. She competes in multiple events including the pentathlon, heptathlon, long jump, and hurdles. The all-BIG EAST performer comes to Notre Dame from a large family, where she is the oldest of seven children. She sat down with UND.com to tell us a little more about herself.

1. Why did you decide to attend Notre Dame?
I was looking at a school that had academics and athletics. Also, the coach here is actually from Canada so he knew my coach. I visited here, and I really liked the campus. It was a good fit.

2. What are your personal goals for this season?
Last year, 18 girls made it to the NCAAs, and I was in 19th, so this year my goal would be to make NCAAs, indoors and outdoors. Hopefully win the BIG EAST or medal again this year in the pentathlon and heptathlon.

3. What are your favorite foods to eat before a meet?
Usually pentathlons and heptathlons are the first events in the morning, so I always have to have oatmeal. It’s kind of become a superstition.

4. Who did you look up to for inspiration when you were growing up?
I looked up to my parents a lot because both of them were athletes in university. My dad played football and my mom played basketball, and they made sure I always played multiple sports. There is also a great pentathlete in Canada named Jessica Zelinka that I looked up to.

5. In your career, what has been your favorite venue to compete in?
Every year in high school I would go down to the Armory Track in New York City. That’s where our BIG EAST meet is this year, too. It is a really cool venue because the track is banked and the venues are raised. It has a very professional feel to it.

6. What do you do to relax after a meet?
I usually just hang out. I don’t like to do much because I’m so tired.

7. How did having seven children in your family help you growing up?
I am the oldest of seven, so I always had to be a leader in the family; I was like a second mom to a lot of my siblings. I wanted to be a good role model for them. Also, seeing my parents deal with seven kids helped me develop good scheduling and time management.

8. Do you have a favorite professor or class so far?
I really liked my anthropology seminar last year with Professor Nordstrom. The class was very interesting and she was very hands on.

9. What do you hope to accomplish after graduation?
I would really like to keep doing track and hopefully make the Olympics in 2012 or 2016. I may want to go to grad school afterwards as well.

10. What are the main differences between living in Canada and the United States?
There actually are not that many differences, although people ask me this all the time. The schooling is different down here; Canada does not have as many universities. And then the money and the metric vs. imperial system are different. Like when I’m high jumping I’ll say I’m jumping 1 meter and 55, and people won’t know what I’m talking about, but I don’t know feet and inches.

11. What was the last CD that you bought?
Probably (Fearless by) Taylor Swift. She’s really good.

12. What activities besides track and field do you enjoy?
I played a lot of sports when I was younger. For Every winter my dad builds a hockey rink in our backyard so I like to skate with my family. I like to read, and just to hang out with my friends.

13. How did you first get into track and field?
I played soccer, hockey, basketball, and other sports growing up. In elementary school I found I had a natural talent for track but I never really wanted to do it until grade 10 when I made a World Youth team in long jump and started focusing on it.

14. What is the most important advice you’ve gotten from a coach?
I learned never to take it too seriously. Track is something you do, not who you are. It can be hard if things aren’t going well or you get injured, but you realize it is not the end of the world.

15. What was your favorite memory of freshman year?
My favorite memory is my first football game here. I had never been to a college football game so it was really cool, especially at Notre Dame. I really liked tailgating too.

16. What song right now do you listen to the most?
I like the song “Happy” by Leona Lewis and “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum.

17. As a sophomore, what advice would you give to freshman on the team this year?
I would tell them not to get too behind starting out. I remember last year I wouldn’t always do readings right away and I got in a hole. You need to learn to manage your time right away and not fall behind.

18. When looking back on your Notre Dame career 10 years from now, what do you want to remember?
I want to remember all the friendships I made and everyone I met here along with all the experiences I’ve had. I really like how in the parking lots here you see license plates from all over the US and I had never really met anyone outside Canada before coming here. I just love this school.

19. What professional sports teams do you root for?
I cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don’t really have a favorite NFL team, but my dad always watched the Oakland Raiders so I cheer for them too.

20. What professional athletes do you most admire?
Along with Jessica Zelinka, I admire (Canadian hurdler) Perdita Felicien. She fell in the hurdles a couple of Olympics ago in the finals when she was favored to win, and won the Worlds a couple of years later. I really admire her for coming back from such a traumatizing situation.

21. What are your favorite movies?
I really like the movie Remember the Titans, and probably A Walk to Remember.

22. What is your favorite spot on campus?
I really like the Grotto, although that’s a pretty standard answer. I especially like it at night with all the candles, it’s so pretty. It’s a good place to think and reflect.

— ND —