Q&A: Duke women's lacrosse star Maddie Jenner talks setting NCAA record, ongoing spring season

Maddie Jenner in Duke's February win against Navy at Koskinen Stadium.
Maddie Jenner in Duke's February win against Navy at Koskinen Stadium.

Maddie Jenner is a graduate attacker for Duke. The Annapolis, Md., native has spent all five of her collegiate years with the Blue Devils, beating her sister Olivia Jenner’s single-season program draw control record in 2022 and setting the NCAA all-time draw control record in a Feb. 19 win against Gardner-Webb. The Chronicle spoke with Jenner about her time with the Blue Devils and the new milestone she reached.

The Chronicle: Last week against Gardner-Webb, you set the all-time NCAA career draw control record. How did it feel to finally break that barrier?

Maddie Jenner: It was a really special moment. My coach called a timeout and my teammates ran onto the field. And I did not expect that. I thought, “What was going on?” But to see them being so happy for my accomplishment, that was something I was really proud of. That someone else could find such genuine joy for me, even something that's more of an individual statistic.

TC: Were you aware, going into the Gardner-Webb game, that this was something that could happen that day?

MJ: I actually was not. Someone in an interview had said “you're 44 away” at the start of the season. So I thought it was in the 20s. I thought it wasn't going to happen in the third game. Then at halftime, someone said that I was three away. And I was like, oh, it really snuck up on me. I'm glad I wasn't thinking about it, though. I guess they had expected it to happen in that game. But I wasn't expecting to get like 18. Normally, I would have already been taken out so we could have some of our other draw-takers get the reps, but they had this amazing video put together that was up on our home scoreboard. A lot of family was there, so they wanted it to happen at home so they kept me in.

TC: Looking back — this is your fifth year with the program. What’s the biggest way that you’ve seen it change over your time, and then looking at yourself as a player, where can you see the most growth in yourself?

MJ: We’ve really tried to cultivate a winning mentality, going into each game expecting us to win, which is hard coming from a .500 season. It doesn’t come out of thin air. I’m just so much more confident. I would get the ball and get bullied by players, not really take it to goal, and I was definitely only an interior kind of player. Now I can play on the outside and the inside, and I’m much stronger. I feel like everyone freshman year takes a hit to their confidence. It takes a bit of time to rebuild it. 

TC: When you came in as a freshman you were able to play with your sister — how did it feel to get one more year with her, learn from her at the draw and then break her single-season draw control record?

MJ: It was super special. I loved playing with her. We would share strategy and what was working, and it was just amazing to have someone that knew exactly what was going on. I got to see her consistency game in and game out, and that was inspiring. In that season she set our single-season draw record at the time, so that was the standard. She set the bar for sure. Breaking the record was cool, but we’re such different players. I want to be known as a more dynamic player, but I am known more for the draw, so it was cool, but I feel like she still has a lot on me. 

TC: Your freshman year you came in with Anna Callahan and Maddie Johnston. How did it feel to come in as freshmen together after playing together on your club team and then against each other in high school? What are the emotions surrounding the fact that it’s your last year?

MJ: It was great to be able to continue our good friendships. Now, it’s awesome that we’re all playing — we’re all healthy and able to make passes to each other that we’ve been making since eighth grade. I feel like it’s all really coming together, so I’m just trying to be grateful for the time I have remaining. 

TC: The freshmen who came in this year — how does it feel to be able to see the next generation and help mentor them?

MJ: They're so skilled. There's a number of freshmen that are redshirting, but are going to have standout careers. So trying to keep them motivated and help them have perspective: You can go so far, and it really doesn't matter where you start. I'm trying to help them see the long run, and just encourage them, because it is really hard when you go from being the star player in high school to being on the sidelines.

TC: Looking at this year’s team: What makes this group a little special, a little different?

MJ: I think the chemistry is still where we're still improving, but between me and Anna, and a lot of these girls that I’ve played with for a long time. We have a lot of experience; a lot of us are veteran players.

TC: It was a tough loss Saturday. With that first loss of the season, what do you take from that and move forward?

MJ: There was a lot of frustration that can be now put towards improving things defensively, running our sets better offensively. It's like the old cliche, you lose or you learn, and there's a lot to learn from that game and a lot of things that were exposed. Offensively we’re just trying to run our sets more, really trust what we've done in practice and not get away from that in games. We've added a lot of plays and have started to run our sets better, we just need to fall back on them in games. It's trusting what our coaches put in games now, which I think is more of a mental hurdle the offensive group has to overcome. 

TC: Nearly five years now, at Duke. What are you most proud of? 

MJ: The lifelong friendships I've formed that I know will not diminish as years go on.

TC: Looking beyond Duke — how is your time with the team going to shape that future and affect you moving forward?

MJ: Something I’ve always been interested in — and this is shaped from my time at Duke and playing sports — is orthopedics and sports medicine, so in the next two years I’m applying to medical school. I’m not planning on playing pro this summer, at least, but I’m ready to squeeze every last bit of joy out of it this spring. 

Rachael Kaplan profile
Rachael Kaplan | Sports Managing Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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