Mada takes flight in his junior year


Photo courtesy of DePaul Athletics

Brian Mada jumping at the 2018 Big East Indoor Track & Field Championship.

It’s been a steady climb for junior jumper Brian Mada from his freshman year to junior one, adjusting to the cold and new techniques. Mada broke through this season with three individual championships, three school records and a spot in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA championships beginning May 24.

“This offseason I put in a lot work,” Mada said. “Coach was really dedicated and strict making sure we were doing the right stuff. It’s just been a lot of work, and as the season started to progress it started to pay off.”

Mada credited head coach Dave Dopek for adjusting to him and knowing what drills he needed to emphasize for each athlete. To help Mada get to where he is now, the focus for Dopek has been teaching him how to analyze a jump and improve his knowledge in the event. By doing so, Mada has become a much more complete jumper.

“Brian is an exceptionally gifted triple jumper. But in order to access more of his potential, we have had to work on improving his technique through his phases,” Dopek said. “Triple jump biomechanics are about controlling momentum and being in the right position at the right time.”

The ultimate goal for Mada is to follow in the footsteps of his coach who became the first individual or team member to capture an NCAA championship when he won the 200-meter title at the 1995 championships. He praised the support he’s received not only from Dopek, but from the rest of the staff and his teammates as well.

“They’ve been amazing, especially Coach Dopek has been very supportive,” Mada said. “He’s inspirational, he won the NCAA Division 1. That’s what I want, he’s just been very supportive.”

The other adjustment for Mada, who moved to the US in 2015 from Rusape, Zimbabwe, has been the weather.

“The weather, I couldn’t handle it – that’s really probably why I was doing well, but I wasn’t doing as much as I was supposed to do,” Mada said. “The weather was a really, really big factor for me, and this year I just got used to it. I’m just like, it doesn’t matter whatever weather I am in, it doesn’t have to stop me and achieving my dreams.”

In a testament to how he has now adjusted to the weather, Mada set a personal record of 15.74 meters in this spring’s cold and windy temperatures at the Illinois Twilight. Mada arrived at DePaul after winning a silver medal at the African Junior Athletics Championships and being named the School Sports Network Student Athlete of the Year.

Despite adjusting to the weather and a new school, Mada still won the triple jump at the Big East Championships his sophomore year and qualified for the NCAA West regional his freshman year in the triple jump as well.

This past weekend, Mada once again captured the triple jump for the third straight team, but he said it didn’t come without help from his teammates, who helped him overcome the disappointment of finishing second in the long jump.

“I love DePaul. The team is very supportive especially last weekend I was really down because I came in second in the long jump,” Mada said. “I (was) expecting to win and people were very supportive of me, and then my other event, the triple jump … I had a lot of support and I carried it with me and won the event.” 

One of the competitors joining him in the regionals is freshman Jade Gates, whose friendship with Mada has grown as they’ve pushed each other during the outdoor season. Gates said it was important to be there for Mada on the second day.

“We were just like, well, it’s time to focus on the triple, that’s where you are, that’s your bread and butter. You go for it,” Gates said. “That was the second day when we were watching him and … making sure he knew we were there supporting (him) and stuff like that. It meant a lot to him, but it meant a lot to us to be able to be there for him.”

As Mada now turns his attention to NCAA Regionals, his focus is on reaching nationals. Mada enters the regional as the 17th seed with his jump of 15.74 meters. USC jumper Eric Sloan currently occupies the 12th spot with a seed mark of 15.84 meters. The top 12 participants will advance to Eugene, Oregon to compete in nationals.

“Last year it didn’t end up as well as I wanted to, like when I went to regionals I prefer to be like in the top 20, and when I went there I was in the top 30s, and it wasn’t a great placement for me,” Mada said. “This time I’ll be 17th and my goal is to go to nationals, and so there are only four people that are ahead of me. I just need to focus really hard and make sure that I go to nationals.”