Senior Speeches: Maddy Fennessy ’19

November 08, 2018

No action or event can take the light from your eyes. Only you can give it that power. 

Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.

Ever since I came into this world, my mother’s favorite quote has been from a song by LeAnn Rimes that states, “Don’t ever lose the light in your eyes”.

Since I was little, she’s repeated this phrase to me, and every time it reminds me of who I am. “The light” stands for my spirit and love for life, as well as my hope for something better to come. It inspires me to persevere through affliction, because nothing can ever take away your light unless you let it.

It was April 2nd, 2012, and spring break had just begun. My brother and five of his friends decided to go to a cabin in Alexandria, Minnesota. I was in fifth grade and at home, kicking a soccer ball around. I went inside to eat and found my mom on the phone, in tears and unable to speak, as my dad wrapped her in his arms. Everything froze in that second as I was informed that my brother was in a life-threatening car accident over three hours away. That was the first real crisis I ever encountered in my life.

Suddenly, nothing else seemed to matter. I was fearful of losing my big brother, my best friend, and the one who always gave me hope. What mattered most was being with my family and praying that God was on our side.

Thankfully He was, or I don’t know how I would have been able to keep that light in my eyes. Had I lost him, my light would have been dimmed forever. I doubt I would have been able to move past that moment after losing my best friend. I am thankful for the lesson that event taught me, that everyone is mortal, and we must cherish the time we have with those who love us.

More than five years later, on October 22nd, 2017, the Shattuck U19 girls’ DA team played Midwest United. I had played only 20 minutes before I lost feeling in both my feet. I told my coach I could not continue into the second half. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because two years previously, my brother had experienced the same symptoms while playing. On December 4th, I was diagnosed with popliteal entrapment. A tendon that ran through the back of my knee had been cutting off circulation to my feet whenever I ran.

For the remaining half of the fall season, I was only able to participate in games to a maximum of 20 minutes at a time, and I had to visit the trainers daily before practice began. This made it difficult for college recruiters to see me play because I was not able to stay on the field long enough to be properly assessed by the scouts. The timing of this obstacle was terrible.

However, I overcame this adversity and pushed forward. I had surgery on December 27th. My parents urged me to walk, and within a week I was able to navigate the halls of Shattuck. During rehab, I cheered on my teammates from the bench and worked hard on coming back better than I was before. I came away with two ugly scars on my legs to remind me of my journey. The whole time, I clung to the hope of succeeding daily because I was not willing to let my light dull due to this one misfortune.

No action or event can take the light from your eyes. Only you can give it that power. When life throws you obstacles, the ability to get through them may seem impossible. However, what I have learned is that, if you hold onto your light and follow the path that you are meant to be on, then you will always come out stronger than you once were. I never imagined I would be as strong a person as I am today, but I am happy with the obstacles I have overcome and look forward to who I will be. My light and spirit will never be dulled, and no one else’s light should be either. It is about having a support system around you and knowing that you are never alone.

A special thank you to my family, friends, teachers, and coaches who have encouraged me to never give up on myself.


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