Family all the time, rivals some of the time: Two sisters find themselves on opposite sides of the LaGrange-Troup rivalry

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Two sisters find themselves on opposite sides of the LaGrange-Troup rivalry. Madison Shelton and Madeira Sirmons find themselves in different shades of blue on game day as Shelton is an assistant coach for the Grangers and Sirmons is a senior player for the Tigers.

“Last year was my first year with LaGrange coaching and last year was a lot harder because we didn’t know how to act,” Shelton said. “This year, we talked about it and I will give her a thumbs up if we make eye contact.

“I’m with her, just not with Troup.”

Shelton took a role as the Gardner Newman coach last season before making the jump to assistant coach at the high school level this season, a prospect that did not make her Troup-loving family very happy.

“Both our parents went to Troup and Madison did too, but she is a traitor,” Sirmons said as they two shared a laugh. “Madison tried to get them to support LaGrange, but they just won’t.”

Shelton suited up for the Tigers when she was in high school and is a member of the class of 2015. Now, she has traded in blue and gold for blue and white.

When LaGrange and Troup matchup, it isn’t quite the stare-down some might expect.

A lot of this comes from their strikingly similar yet different personalities.

“I think we are more similar than we would like to admit,” Shelton said. “She composes herself a bit more than me though.”

The nine-year age gap between the two meant that they never shared the diamond as teammates, but Shelton did coach Sirmons in travel ball.

“It was awesome to have her as a coach because she played all throughout high school,” Sirmons said. 

The coaching between Shelton and Sirmons has not stopped now that one is a Granger and one is a Tiger. When Sirmons was in an early season slump from the plate, she called on her big sister to help fix her swing.

“This year I have noticed she has become a better coach, which is because of LaGrange,” Sirmons said with an eye roll. “She will take me to the cages and work on everything.

“I was in a slump at the beginning of the season and I told Madison I needed needed some extra hitting help.”

 The work with her big sister helped as her play from the plate began to click.

“She then went 3-for-3 against us, and I was like what have I done,” Shelton said as the two shared a deep laugh. “Coach Craig (Mobley) told me that if I fixed her he was going to be mad at me.”

The two are ultra-competitive, but cannot help but smile at each other from opposing dugouts on LaGrange vs. Troup game days.

“I was always trying to beat her growing up,” Sirmons said, laughing. “I have to be better than you.”

Shelton added that “the nine-year age gap means nothing” as the two shared a chuckle.

While they are technically rivals by virtue of the schools they are currently at, they are not rivals in any other way. The two rarely argue or bicker, and it was Shelton who got Sirmons into the sport of softball.

“I wouldn’t be playing softball if it wasn’t for her,” Sirmons said. “She started playing softball growing up and my parents put me in it because it is what she played, and I ended up falling in love with it.”

To watch Sirmons’ love for the sport grow and surpass hers is all a big sister could ask for.

“She probably loves softball more than I ever did,” Shelton said. “She has such a passion for it that I had, but didn’t have if that makes sense.”

Sirmons could find herself back in the dugout one day even though her playing time is winding down.

“Coaching seems so fun,” Sirmons said. “I would love to do it, especially if I could come back and coach at Troup.

“Then maybe we could face off against each other again one day.”