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Pitman’s King and Vander Weide sign together
Childhood dream comes true for two lifelong friends
Pitman signing
Pitman High’s Madi King (track and field) and Emily Vander Weide (volleyball) signed on to play collegiately after an unforgettable run with the Pride (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Pitman High best friends Madi King and Emily Vander Weide have been side by side since they were in kindergarten.

On Tuesday afternoon, together, as they have been for most of their lives, they were able to bring a large group of friends and family to the Pride library to watch them both sign their National Letters of Intent to their respective colleges, as they prepare to play at the next level.

King signed on to throw the hammer at William Jessup University while Vander Weide committed to continue playing volleyball at Cal State San Marcos.

“Emily is my best friend and when we grew up together, we did so many volleyball camps. I am close with her parents and family and I am just really glad to have that relationship heading into college. I know she will always be there,” said King. “It is really nice to have someone else who understands what we go through since we have gone to all the same schools.”

“I was so thankful to be able to sign with Madi, just so grateful, she is such an amazing girl,” said Vander Weide. “We have known each other forever, and I didn’t want to sign with anyone else, it was just such a blessing that we both had the opportunity to continue playing in college.”

From kindergarten, to junior high, to Pitman High, it seemed like they were inseparable.

When coming to Pitman High, they both became part of a Pride volleyball program that was arguably the best in the section over the past half-decade.

Vander Weide played on the varsity squad for head coach legend Kirsten Pontes-Christian since her freshman year and was focused on earning a scholarship for the sport she loves.

It was during the 2015 fall season that she helped the Pride win their second straight Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship after a 30-7 season. She was the only freshman on the squad.

Her sophomore year was almost the same thing, they won the Central California Conference yet again, this time with an 11-1 league record and went 28-8 as they met crosstown foe, Turlock High, in an epic D-I SJS Championship showdown for the blue banner.

Pitman won that game and Vander Weide secured her second straight section title in as many years.

She continued to balance her studies and athletics the best she could while maintaining a 4.6 grade point average, earning scholar athlete honors.

“A lot of late nights, a lot of stress and crying but we got through it,” said Vander Weide. “It was hard, it was rough and still doing it now. We need to push ahead in the last few months, but knowing I need the good grades because I want to play in college, it also helped me to strive.”

She continued to succeed and was a four-year varsity starter, with two section championships, and three league titles which included winning the first ever Central California Athletic League title with King on board.

“It is really cool, we started off the CCAL by winning, so I think that was a good legacy to leave our fellow younger teammates,” said Vander Weide. “I hope they can win more league titles and maybe sections again since we got a couple of those and maybe state as well.” 

Vander Weide also competed in track and field in the long jump, along with King, who really flourished in her events that included discus, shot-put and hammer.

King not only flourished in track and field, but also in the classroom, along with Vander Weide.

King maintained a 4.42 GPA and made the Dean’s List in seven semesters.

“I did a lot of studying and note cards, lot of late-night study sessions with friends and a lot of online help as well. We are lucky we have the internet and everyone has been super supportive in understanding all of it,” said King.

While she was throwing, she also stood out above the rest and was named to the varsity team for three years.

She was seventh in the state in the High School Hammer Championships in 2016.

The following year, King finished 12th at Nationals in girls hammer throw.

In 2018, King was eighth in California (All State) HS Hammer Championships.

Most recently, King took fifth in the state in the girls weight throw at California High School Winter Championships.

King also currently holds eight records in the Weight Throw and Hammer Throw.

“I didn’t expect this much success. I’ve been doing track and field and volleyball since I was nine and obviously you never really expect anything, but for such a long time I was coached by an Olympian coach who taught elite throwers and since that I have been confident in my ability,” said King. “I was worried about what college I would attend since track and field is at a later time in the season, so I was worried about getting my marks in for college recruiters and coaches to see. It feels really good to have the rest of the season to do the best I can without worrying about the college decision.”