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A Winner On the Court and On the Runway

Lasell student-athlete Madison Cota was crowned Miss Vermont USA and will compete in Miss USA 2017.

Not that many varsity athletes are also beauty pageant winners and ace students.            

One notable exception, however, is Madison Cota '18. The junior co-captain of Lasell's Women's Basketball team (along with Brianna Hoffman '18 and Morgan Church '18) also wears the crown of Miss Vermont USA 2017. And the 20-year-old is handling these dual commitments with finesse.

A Bellows Falls, VT native, Cota has been shooting hoops from age 11 and competing in pageants since her sophomore year of high school at Vermont Academy. As a high school senior, she won the title of Miss Vermont Teen USA 2014 and represented her home state in the national Miss Teen USA 2014 competition.

When it came time to think about college, Cota chose Lasell "for three reasons," she says. "Academics, athletics and location. I wanted to explore a range of Fashion majors, the opportunity to pursue an NCAA Division III basketball career and to be in close proximity to Boston, an exciting fashion hub."

So far, all three goals are being met.

"It's not easy being a full-time student, a student athlete, and a titleholder," she tells Leaves. "I constantly remind myself of my priorities: family always comes first, with academics a close second. I'm dedicated to my studies and strongly believe in maintaining a high level of academic performance."

Commenting on Cota's delicate juggling act, Lasell Women's Basketball Coach Todd Montana says, "Madison embodies all of the best pieces of the Division III student-athlete experience. She maintains a high GPA (3.94 this past Fall) while balancing her athletic interests with her pageant commitments. Not 24 hours after being crowned Miss Vermont USA 2017," Montana continues, "she was back in the gym, excited to join her teammates in practicing for our next game."

Just as gym time is not only about athletic performance, the runway is not only about glamour. "A huge part of being a titleholder involves community service," Cota says. "During my Miss Vermont Teen USA 2014 reign, I worked with many state and national charities, including the USO, Best Buddies, Girls On the Run, the Vermont Epilepsy Foundation and the Vermont Special Olympics, to name a few."

On the social service front currently as Miss Vermont USA 2017, she's volunteering with Donate Life, an organ donor registry "to help raise awareness and break down negative stigmas that surround organ donation." It's a cause close to her heart, she explains, having seen a dear uncle "extend his life for 10 years through a donated organ."

Looking ahead to this summer, Cota will represent the Green Mountain State in the national Miss USA 2017 competition. After graduation next year, she hopes to parlay her Lasell Fashion Merchandising major background to launch a career in performance apparel product development. "I'm a huge health nut," she laughs, "and I'd love to blend my degree with my passion for a healthy, active lifestyle."

And Coach Montana has every confidence in his star forward. "Being able to juggle the academic, athletic and outside interests that Madison has, without short-changing any of her obligations, bodes very well for her ability to be successful long after her time in a Laser uniform is over."

But before then, there's one more year of varsity Basketball at the College.

"Lasell Athletics is more than just a collection of teams," Cota stresses. "It really is a family away from home-a family I am extremely grateful to be part of."

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