Competition drives Eastern Oregon middle blocker Madisen Garlie — and it doesn’t even have to be the competition of a hotly-contested volleyball match.

“The stupidest things I get competitive about. I play board games all the time. I love playing those,” the senior said. “In practice, I feel like making it competitive makes it more fun. It brings the best out of people.”

Garlie has carried a competitive fire the entire time she’s donned a Mountaineers uniform.

In fact that drive, combined with not wanting to be around drama, played a big role in her decision to transfer from Oregon Institute of Technology after her sophomore year.

“I didn’t mesh with the girls very well. It was very catty,” she said. “It was just a lot of drama. I think that was a big part of it for me was all the drama, and I didn’t like it. I wanted to win, and it wasn’t very serious (at OIT). I just couldn’t take it any more.”

She said during her time at OIT, the team was more of a “have a good time type of crowd.” Some of the players with that mindset left after her freshman year, but the play still wasn’t at the level she wanted to see it at.

“The second year, during season, when we started losing a lot, that was when I started thinking, ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore,’” she said.

Garlie had been telling her former high school teammate, Rachelle Chamberlain, that she was unhappy at OIT, and Chamberlain encouraged her to leave the school. Her family in May, Idaho, a tiny town of 23 people, also suggested she move on after hearing the situation.

The decision was a tough one for Garlie, who said she’s never been the type to quit anything.

“I was so upset. I had stomach problems. I almost had stomach ulcers just from the stress of it all.”

But Garlie said she learned a valuable life lesson during that time.

“If I’m working and not happy, unhappiness is not worth it, no matter what you’re doing,” she said.

Chamberlain, who had transferred from Montana Western to EOU the year prior, encouraged Garlie to join the Mountaineers.

“I just knew that at Eastern their girls were harder (working) and seemed like they didn’t have all the drama. You can see that in other teams,” Garlie said. “It’s a lot closer to home. I love the area, (and) there’s hunting. I go hunting a lot.”