BYU Softball player, Maddie Bejarano and her “why” behind playing

Have you ever wondered if there is a specific reason as to why an athlete plays their sport or an incentive behind everything they do? Well, Maddie Bejarano has one that will leave you in tears.

Maddie is a senior outfielder from Arizona who plays for BYU Softball.  She had an early start to softball at such a young age.   Her supportive parents, Mindy and Matt Bejarano wanted her to do what she was passionate about, but made sure that whatever she chose, she committed to it. 

“They made me commit to something. They didn’t just let me quit.  If I didn’t like it, they were like nope you committed to a team,” Maddie said. 

Although she had a taste of other sports, Maddie stuck with softball.  During her Freshman year of high school, she committed to UCF.

However, UCF didn’t last forever for Maddie.  She entered the transfer portal and BYU was one of the first schools to contact her.  BYU Softball head coach, Coach Eakin spoke with Maddie over the phone not for only 10 or 15 minutes, but for two hours just trying to get to know her.

This was a huge deal to Maddie. Why? Because she loves how family oriented the softball program is.  Maddie is a family lover and cherishes her siblings and parents, so she knew that BYU was the place for her because of the core values placed in the program. 

So, you might be thinking what makes Maddie’s family so special to her?  Why was she drawn by that aspect of the program at BYU? Well, the simple answer is, it’s her “why”.

More specifically, Maddie’s “why” or reason for playing is her little brother Tanner.  Tanner is 19 years old.  He is currently a Freshman in college and was born with down syndrome.  

“He is the reason behind everything I do. I just want to give him everything that I possibly can to make his life as easy as possible,” Maddie said. 

Maddie with her younger brother Tanner who was born with down syndrome

Maddie explained that Tanner goes through challenges in life because of his down syndrome.  He is not given the same opportunities his siblings get to have.  Tanner is the life of the party though. Maddie believes that he lives such a fantastic life under his condition. Even if he could be mad at the world for the challenges he has to face on a day to day basis, Maddie sees him as the most joyful and happiest person she knows. 

“He constantly reminds me to just take advantage of every opportunity that I’m given and to not take anything for granted. I just love him so much and I think we all need to strive to be somewhat like him,” Maddie said. 

Tanner supports Maddie in everything she does. Maddie thinks that Tanner supports him by just being himself.  Tanner has been told so many things that he cannot do, but he never listens.  To Maddie, him doing the things that were said to be impossible is her inspiration and reason to do as much and even more than Tanner does.  

“He’s my biggest fan. He doesn’t care about watching any of the other bats except my own,” Maddie said.  

Maddie learns so much from Tanner. Even if Tanner looks up to Maddie and her great abilities at softball, she sees Tanner in such a brighter light than he knows. 

“As I’ve gotten older, I know that there’s more to softball than just softball.  There’s more to give in every single way through life. He’s never going to be given the same opportunities as I do and even if he doesn’t get them, he probably lives a happier life than me,” Maddie said. 

Their bond as siblings is one that doesn’t go unnoticed. 

BYU Softball teammate of Maddie’s, Jaelynn Lambert has become one of her best friends here in Utah.  Even Jaelynn can see that Tanner means the world to Maddie. 

Maddie with her best friend and BYU Softball teammate, Jaelynn Lambert

“I know she would do anything for him and she lives everyday and plays every game for him,” Jaelynn said. 

Jaelynn being on the team with Maddie and knowing her reason as to why she does it all amazes her.

“Watching her play for Tanner is so inspirational.  Hearing her story about her “why” made me really emotional. You can tell when Tanner is at the games because Maddie is going all out playing with a smile on her face, while watching Tanner in the stands,” Jaelynn said. 

Hearing from Jaelynn shows that Maddie genuinely plays for Tanner.  Her best friend knows why, but what does it mean for her parents to see their children have something like this.  

“I love watching the bond my kids have.  It touches my heart to watch Tanner and Maddie’s relationship,” Matt said.

According to Matt, Tanner has always had a passion and love for sports.  Tanner competed in soccer, football, baseball, and so much more. He always believed that he was going to play in college. However, when Maddie began to receive offers and attention from colleges, she realized that despite Tanner’s passion for sports, he would never receive the same opportunities. 

“Maddie always said she would never take the opportunities she was provided for granted and would always play for her little brother Tanner,” Matt said. 

Her parents see their relationship and know that Maddie and Tanner have something truly special.

“Her bond with Tanner is honestly one in a million.  Maddie has learned compassion and understanding through the challenges she has seen her little brother face since the day he was born,” Maddie’s mom Mindy said. 

With Tanner’s disabilities, he is not able to achieve as high as a typical kid would be able to and Maddie’s mom sees how this affects her.

“[Maddie] sees that in him and I think that it makes her play harder since she understands she was given this gift from God and I think sometimes she just plays for him,” Mindy said. 

All Maddie wants is to make Tanner proud and do everything she can for him. 

However, Maddie has nothing to worry about because Tanner is truly her biggest fan out there.  With his positive outlook and astonishment in what Maddie can do, he believes she can do it all to his core.

“Maddie is the best softball player that I know, she is going to the next level.  She is one of the best softball players in the country and no one will stop her.  She is the goat,” Tanner said. 

I mean you heard it hear folks, Maddie is the goat to her little brother.  After talking with Tanner, there is only a simple way to describe how Tanner feels about Maddie.  He loves her.

“I am so happy to have an older sister who can count on me.  My favorite thing about maddie is when she hit the home run,” Tanner said. 

You can’t make this up.  Not the story.  Not their bond.  Maddie’s “why” for everything she does is “one in a million”. 

Video posted by BYU Softball. Maddie talking about Tanner being her “why”

Maddie makes it clear that she plays for Tanner.  Everything she believes is from him and how he carries himself through a day to day basis.  If there is one ultimate thing that Maddie has learned throughout this journey of softball with Tanner is to leave softball on the field.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to leave softball at softball. Celebrate the exciting, happy moments and when those things happen, he’s always my biggest fan.  He’s one of my first calls after games and he just helps me to see the world in a different light,” Maddie said.

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