By Samantha McKosky ’19 / Sports Information Intern
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Madeleine Dalberg, from Pitea, Sweden, recently joined the women’s track and field team after enrolling at Eastern earlier this month.
Before coming to Eastern, Madeleine spent a year in New Jersey working as an AU Pair. In Sweden, most students use this as a gap year -- between high school and college -- to travel and explore different cultures.
Madeleine reached out to the Eastern track and field head coach, Kathy Manizza, toward the end of the fall semester. Manizza said, “She contacted me first, then we Skyped. When we talked, Nick (Brink), our other athlete from Sweden, also came to the Skype session and talked to her about the school.”
A 2016 graduate of Strombacka High School, Madeleine applied to many other schools in the United States, among those in Chicago, Ohio and Maine, but found the track and field coaches at Eastern to be the friendliest and most understanding. SWEDIS
Madeleine enjoys ice skating when she’s not on the track but her parents, Rose-Marie and Robert, had her start training in track and field since the age of six, competing in the hurdles and long jump.
“They put me in (sports) because I was hyperactive, I would never sit still,” says Madeleine. “I would be jumping on furniture in the house, so they were like, ‘let’s just get her into track and field.’”
Despite being away from formal sports for over a year, the 5-foot-7 inch Dalberg has made an immediate impact with the Eastern track & field program. In her first meet at Plymouth State Jan. 20 after less than a week of training, she set an indoor record of 9.70 in the 60 hurdles, produced the third-farthest distance in the long jump (17-3 ¼), and ran the sixth fastest 60 (8.47) in program history. Her long jump left her just a half-foot shy of qualifying for the New England Open Championships.
Robert Dalberg, who works as an electrician in Pitea, competed in the sport as well, having a big impact on Madeleine’s ambitions.
In Sweden, there are no sports at the schools, but rather, club sports, making the competition more individualized. “Here, you compete more as a team, like you collect points, and that’s not really how it works in Sweden,” says the versatile Dalberg, who competed in a variety of events growing up, including the heptathlon.
Pitea is a popular tourist destination located in the province of Norrbotten and is a little small town (less than ten square miles) on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia -- close to the Artic circle -- making winters a brutal season with frigid temperatures. For many years, the local hockey club, Pitea HC, has provided the NHL with a steady stream of talented players, among them Tomas Holmstrom – who won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings between 1997 and 2008 -- and Mikael Renberg, a member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ Legion of Doom Line in the 1990s.
Madeleine’s immediate success at Eastern should be of no surprise. In Sweden, she was a finalist in the long jump and hurdles at the Swedish Junior Championships, set a 19-year-old state record in the long jump, and was named the state’s Junior-of-the-Year in 2016.
Born Anna Madeleine Dalberg in Pitea, the soon-to-be 21-year-old has two teenage siblings – 18-year-old sister Jennifer and 17-year-old brother Niklas. Although she is 6,000 miles away from her family Madeleine is excited to begin her new journey here at Eastern with us. She is majoring in Communication and sees herself working in sports journalism after college.