The county will remember Madison Small by naming two softball fields, her old stomping grounds at Trailside Park, in her honor.
The Madison Small Softball Complex, as it will be known, saw a lot of the ebullient teenager. She played in the Ashburn Girls Softball League there, and after practice, she would play with her dad, Tim, and younger sister, Jordan, until the groundskeeper turned off the lights.
“We got to know the light guy pretty well,” Tim remembered. “Manny. Emanuel was wonderful. We would always tell him, ‘OK, Manny, as soon as you need to go, let us know. Just give us five minutes’ warning.’”
Madison was in her senior year, with plans to go to Virginia Tech, when she fell ill in April last year. Within hours of first complaining of a headache, the 18-year-old was dead, victim of a rare and fast-moving bacterial meningitis infection.
Her sudden death sent shockwaves throughout the community, especially among her classmates, who rallied to support the family and each other. Madison’s jersey number, 24, appeared on Twitter, on cars, on armbands, and in the dugout at Broad Run High School.
But Tommy Moorcones, a family friend, thought there should be something else to remember her.
“Our families go back a long way,” Moorcones said. “We grew up together, and in fact I was with Tim when he met his wife, Rachel.”
Moorcones was meeting with Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) to talk about turf fields when he brought up the idea of memorializing Madison.
“I kind of half-jokingly said, why don’t we see if we can get Potomac Lakes Sports Complex renamed Madison Small Sports Complex,” Moorcones said. “She kind of laughed and she said, ‘you know, I’m going to make that happen.’”
And she did. Potomac Lakes was a no-go, but the softball fields at Trailside turned out to be a better option.
“Many, many days and nights, we were over at Trailside, either practicing as a team, or she and I would go over there and work some,” Tim said.
But they didn’t tell Tim their idea. Not until Moorcones and Volpe ran it by the Ashburn supervisor, Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R).
“This is something that both Supervisor Buona and I think is good to honor her and her memory,” Volpe said. “She was truly a good person, and helped many, many young girls.”
After Buona and the Department of Parks and Recreation agreed, Buona broke the news.
“I know, myself, it was one of the most emotional and most joyous phone calls I’ve ever had,” said the normally gruff Buona.
The board will present a resolution to the Smalls at its meeting Thursday, March 17. And a plaque will be erected at the softball fields proclaiming their new name.
“Madison was a bright, shining star,” Moorcones said. “That girl could light up a room and she had an effect on everybody that was just very positive, and very bright, and there are not a lot of people like that in this world.”
“I wish there was a way for us to thank everybody, because the community just keeps amazing us with all the support and love that they’ve shown to us,” Tim said. “It’s just incredible. I don’t know how else to say it. I just wish that there was a way that we could thank everybody individually.”