Introduced to the sport by her grandfather, she went on to become a member of the Alaska Nanook Rifle Team and make it to the world championships this summer in Spain.
Maddalena was raised in Groveland, California, near Yosemite National Park. “I grew up in the woods; it was part of my lifestyle,” she said. She fell in love with forests and wanted to learn more about them, which led her to study forest sciences with SNRE.
Noting that the forestry field doesn’t have much young knowledge coming in, Maddalena wants to do her part to keep research going. She is learning about natural resources conservation and the importance of carbon sequestration.
“You take water, sunlight and carbon and, bam, you’ve got wood,” she said. “It’s a big resource.” Maddalena’s goals are to graduate, then find a job and put her knowledge to work.
When she started shooting, it was outdoors with a high power service rifle. Once she joined her high school rifle team she switched to shooting indoors with air rifles and small bore rifles. “It was a big change,” she said. She earned many rewards, including Distinguished Rifleman by the Civilian Marksmanship Program in 2011.
As a freshman at UAF last year, Maddalena was voted the most valuable player by her Nanook teammates, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference faculty athletic representative’s scholar-athlete, won the first-ever Joe Tremarello student athlete sportsmanship award winner and competed at the U.S.A. Shooting National Championships.
She is humble enough to say, “I was fortunate to get picked up by the coach and the team.”
To excel at shooting takes maturity, she said. “You’ve got a lot of power in your hand. I enjoy the thrill of it and being able to do it well. It’s my passion.”
Her sport takes confidence and being able to control one's own thoughts. “You’ve got to be in your zone so stuff around you doesn’t bother you.”
Maddalena gets up at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday to run three miles. She practices shooting three to four hours a day. “I’ve got to have a schedule and follow it,” she said. “I have no down time till bed but it keeps me out of trouble.”
When she gets time she enjoys fly fishing. “Being outdoors helps ease my mind,” she said.
This summer Maddalena traveled to Germany and Slovania to participate in World Cups and Spain for the Grand Prix. “It was a wonderful opportunity to represent the U.S. and UAF, the school and my community,” she said. “And it was an opportunity to do my passion.”
Nanooks Rifle Coach Dan Jordan said, "Sagen is one of those people that you dream about having on your team. She is a hard worker, a great leader, and an excellent shooter. We are fortunate that she came to UAF and definitely adds to our team dynamic and success."