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A warm heart in a cold sport: Madison McChesney earns Al King Leadership award

Madison McChesney earns leadership award after long and successful career with Dickinson High.

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Madison McChesney receiving the Al King Leadership award by her head coach Al Takle. (Courtesy of Dickinson High School Hockey twitter)

The Al King Leadership award is not an easy feat for one to obtain in Dickinson High Hockey. The award is given to an unconditional leader both on and off the ice. The athlete to obtain the award is known for honoring the game of hockey by helping others learn the game, play to the best of their abilities and carrying the game of hockey forward in a positive way within the community of Dickinson.

In 2021, that player is the captain of the girls hockey team in senior forward Madison McChesney.

“It was really cool,” McChesney said. “I don’t know there was a lot of emotions when my coach was explaining why I got it. It was really heartfelt.”

McChesney explained what the Al King Leadership award means to her.

“It kind of means to me that I have kind of proven myself enough to be a good role model for younger players to look up to or even my fellow teammates,” she said.

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For the members of the Dickinson High Hockey Club, McChesney was the top candidate for obtaining the award.

“She has been a big part of our team for five years and played in some really big games for us,” Al Takle said. “She touched so many of the kids and the people in our team … Madison is a great kid, great leader and I think this award is something that really deserved.”

McChesney is not the typical hockey player. Most may play because they love the speed, scoring goals and celebrating afterwards, the aggressiveness, or the competitiveness that drives a certain individual to be great. While those things are nice, that is not why McChesney fell in love with the game of hockey.

To the senior captain, it was all about something more -- a team.

“My favorite part of hockey is my teammates,” she said. We had such a great bond, we had game day rituals like playing soccer and that’s the best part.”

In her five year career, McChesney has helped the Midgets reach the state tournament twice, her first appearance in 2017-18 followed by another appearance in ‘18-19. In both appearances, the Midgets finished by placing fifth in the tournament.

Along with being a talented athlete and helping the Midgets reach the state tournament, McChesney was known for being a helping hand both on and off the ice to her teammates, or any player that wanted to learn, improve their skills, or just enjoy the game of hockey, making her an instant fan favorite and beloved player to see at the West River Ice Center.

Fans often wondered where the leadership abilities of McChesney came from, as she made it look effortless. Whether she was on the ice or on the bench, McChesney always wanted to see the best efforts come out of her team.

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The answer, McChesney helped coach younger athletes, including players in the mites and mini mites age classifications. As a result, coaches such as Takle were highly astonished in her flawless leadership abilities that helped make the Dickinson girls hockey team feel more like a family than a team.

“She was a huge leader for our team and really took care of any issues that we ever had,” Takle said. “Certainly was somebody as coaches that we were able to turn to and get her to communicate with the team in ways that really made sure that there was never any issues with the team and even though we did struggle, she was really a huge leader for our younger team that we had this year.”

While McChesney is known around the WRIC as being a friendly athlete and leader, the senior forward was also known for being a strong competitor that never wanted to give up and always gave her best effort, even with injuries.

“She had surgery on her feet after her freshman year and sophomore year and she had to play in pain a lot of times but always came to the rink with a smile on her face,” Takle said. “Not just being there for herself but really being the leader of the team and that’s no small feat.”

McChesney described how she felt with her five years of being a part of the Dickinson High girls hockey team.

“It was so much fun, it was a lot of hard work but I would never give it up,” she said. “I wish that I could keep playing. Especially with that team and the coaches … we just had such a great bond and everything we did. It was for each other and not just individually, it was perfect.”

With the ‘20-21 season being her senior year, McChesney talked about the goals she had for herself. Like everything, it was never about her, but about others.

“I wanted to accomplish more team goals because I knew I wasn't going to be there next year so I really wanted to help build up as a team and help everyone get to where they needed to go,” she said. “I feel like I definitely reached them.”

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With her final year of high school hockey officially in the books, and her name forever cemented as being one of the best and most respected players to ever glide over the ice for the Dickinson Midgets, McChesney had a small piece of advice for all athletes.

“Have fun. Try just to do your best and have a blast doing what you can do. Make friends and enjoy your time while you have it,” she said.

Related Topics: DICKINSONDICKINSON MIDGETS
Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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