Meadowdale grad Maxwell receives call to the hall

The National Champion gymnast will be inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame in September
By Ian Davis-Leonard | Jul 10, 2018
Courtesy of: Deni Boswell Maxwell Deni Maxwell won a gymnastics All-Around National Championship during her senior year at SPU.

Deni Boswell Maxwell, a 1994 Meadowdale High School graduate, thrived on the mat.

As a collegiate gymnast at Seattle Pacific University, Maxwell won three national championships and was named to the nation’s All-American team nine times in four different events including the vault, uneven bars, floor and beams.

Now, two decades later, the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame is honoring Maxwell for her acrobatics.

She is one of eight local athletes, coaches, teams and sports contributors to be inducted into the county’s athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

When Maxwell was first notified by the Hall of Fame’s selection committee that she had been chosen as an inductee, she was thought it might be a prank.

“I kind of didn’t believe it, I thought ‘Is this real?’ ‘Does this even exist?’,” she said.

After so many years away from gymnastics, Maxwell was overwhelmed and shocked to learn that she had received the honor.

“Probably, because it is 20 years later I feel so removed from it that to think that that’s a value to someone now, what I did that long ago is surprising, honoring and humbling,” Maxwell said.

Now, as a mother of two and after being away from the sport for so long, it is difficult for Maxwell to reflect on a sport that engrossed so much of her life over two decades ago.

“I don’t think I did anything anyone else couldn’t have done, I don’t think I am anything different especially 20 years later,” Maxwell said.

“I think opportunities were put in front of me and I was able to take advantage of them.”

It wasn’t an easy road to success for Maxwell, she battled an array of injuries during her career and continued to compete while her mother battled breast cancer throughout Maxwell’s upbringing.

“Gymnastics was my anchor,” she said.

At the time and to this day, Meadowdale High School does not have a gymnastics program, meaning that Maxwell’s weekly 20 hours of training took place at gymnastic academies in Everett or Seattle.

“It was great to have something outside of school, but there was a significant disconnect from my high school,” Maxwell said. “Nobody really knew what I did, or understood.”

Through gymnastics, Maxwell learned time management, goal setting, determination, grit and most of all perseverance.

“You have to fall a lot to learn anything in gymnastics, and I think that’s a good lesson in all of life that you have to get back up,” Maxwell said.

She admitted to quitting the sport more than a few times, but was always drawn back in.

Sticking with the sport paid off, as Maxwell was awarded the opportunity to continue her gymnastics career at SPU after her high school career ended.

In 1997, during Maxwell’s junior year, the SPU Falcon gymnastic team won the National team title and Maxwell was poised for a big senior year.

But just before the start of her senior year tragedy struck and Maxwell was faced with her toughest test yet, the loss of her mother who succumb to breast cancer.

“It wasn’t easy to jump back into school and training days after my mom passed away but I knew it was the right thing to do for myself and my team,” she said. “I knew I would regret not finishing my collegiate career and I know it is what my mom wanted me to do.”

With her mother’s passing still fresh, Maxwell won the national all-around championship and uneven bar titles, while also being awarded All-American status for four events.

“I had a lot of challenges during those four years and the fact that I made it is most important, regardless of the awards I got,” Maxwell said.

Gymnastics still holds a grip on Maxwell. She misses the team component of collegiate gymnastics, as well as the training and physical activity the sport provided her, while also being thankful to be done with the mental anguish of the sport.

“It’s been 20 years, I’m a mom now, life is different,” she said.

This past year she returned to the mat as an assistant women’s gymnastics coach at her alma mater of SPU and while she won’t be returning next year, she isn’t closing the door on gymnastics and hopes to coach again one day.

Maxwell and the rest of the 2018 inductees into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame will be honored on Sept. 19 at a banquet inside Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

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