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Caleb Aman

Even before Madison Banks stepped into a high school classroom, she already had her college plans solidified.

Committed to the University of Washington softball program since eighth grade, the Bettendorf senior made it official recently signing a national letter of intent with the Pac-12 school.

Bettendorf had a signing ceremony Wednesday for four student-athletes. In addition to Banks, swimmers Caleb Aman (Wisconsin) and Sam Galvin (Youngstown State) along with basketball standout Emily Ivory (Missouri-Kansas City) were recognized.

Banks' story is somewhat unique.

She never has played an inning of high school softball. Instead, she has opted for travel ball each summer with the Beverly Bandits out of Chicago.

"It is more competitive," Banks said. "You're playing these top athletes that are going to Washington, UCLA, Oregon or Florida. You're seeing what you're going to be seeing in college on a daily basis.

"It was the best route for me. I've tried to represent Bettendorf in different ways, either playing basketball and I'm doing track again this year."

Washington gives Banks the opportunity to compete for a College World Series title. The Huskies were at the CWS last season.

Banks, a shortstop, already has developed a close bond with Washington. She has had weekly conversations with the coaching staff for the last four-plus years.

"I haven't missed a Monday call with them," Banks said. "To this day, we'll talk about random stuff, like cereal for 40 minutes.

"That's what drew me to them. At Washington, I felt at home and they wanted to get to know me more than just as a softball player. I feel that will bring out the best in me athletically and academically."

Aman selected Wisconsin over Iowa, Missouri and Missouri State. He was drawn to the Badgers' smaller roster size and team atmosphere.

"I was a little weary at first because I never heard a lot about Wisconsin or Midwest swimming coming from Virginia," Aman said. "It was an eye opener.

"I wasn't slow, but I wasn't the top-tier swimmer that I am today. I've honestly grown into someone who wants to be an NCAA swimmer."

Aman won three state championships last winter (200 medley relay, 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke). He holds multiple school records with a season still remaining.

Currently, he's focused on getting ready for the junior nationals in Iowa City next month.

"I'm looking forward to showcase what it means to be a Wisconsin recruit," Aman said. "Last year, junior nationals was kind of my breakout meet of talking to Wisconsin and bigger schools.

"I'm excited for it."

Galvin committed to Youngstown State last month. She helped the Bulldogs finish third place at the state meet earlier this month and is swimming club for Lane Four Aquatics this winter.

"It is an accomplishment for me," she said. "I never thought I would swim in college until my freshman year of high school. I wanted to work hard, and I'm still working hard to get there."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.