In the Surface household, nothing is more important than faith, family and, of course, football.
Madison Surface, Ball State Football Operations and Recruiting Graduate Assistant, is one of the most recent Surfaces to be involved in Division-I football. Madison follows her father, Matthew, her grandfather, Mark and her younger brother, Blake.
“The last name Surface and football are hand-in-hand, I guess,” Madison laughed.
Upon her enrollment at Ball State University in the fall of 2019, Madison was confident football was going to be involved in her career, but she was unsure how. A love for public speaking, which blossomed in high school, led her to pursue sports broadcasting. That skill, combined with her passion, led to her being offered a position working for the Cardinals her sophomore year, which she held up until she was offered her new position spring of 2023.
Madison said the promotion meant a lot; because of her professional drive, but also because of her family. Growing up with her dogs, Judge and Jeter, named after the star New York Yankees players, Madison has always been intertwined with sports.
“I played just about every sport you could imagine,” Madison said. “It’s just a thing you do as a Surface.”
Madison is the granddaughter of two Indiana football coaches, her grandfather Mark Surface, who coached at Marion High School, and her ‘Papaw,’ Calvin Duff, who coached at Lincoln High School. Even after her Papaw’s passing from Alzheimer’s two years ago, his memory and love for the game have continued to push her and Blake to continue down that path as well.
“He is probably one of the biggest reasons I continue to work in football…if there is anything that would make me and my brother really emotional being in college football, it’s that he’s not here to see it,” Madison said.
With sports being the Surface family’s ‘second nature,’ Blake’s emergence into Division-I football at Indiana State University is no surprise, especially to his sister.
“I could not be prouder,” Madison said. “Blake is the steady hand out of all of us, he’s perfect.”
Blake, a redshirt sophomore, is entering his third year with the Sycamores. Madison is hoping this year will be his big breakout season, and Blake, though humble, is confident in that too.
“I’ve always felt like I am chasing the guys before me. I don’t feel like I have come close to achieving what they have, but it’s playful competition and something for me to chase after,” Blake said.
Family is his inspiration, his crutch to lean on, and his reason to keep bettering himself in football. Blake said during the football season, it is hard for him and Madison to talk and catch up given their demanding, contrasting schedules. However, they make it work by Facetiming and always texting in their family group chat shared with their younger brother, Boe, making sure they all feel supported.
One relationship in particular, that with his late Papaw, is one Blake misses. As is the case with Madison, his memory has become something for Blake to honor, a goal to further his legacy with every game played.
“He loved football and loved the relationships it created,” Blake said. “It’s sad because I think he would’ve been over the [moon] to watch my brother, who plays at Pendleton Heights, and I play.”
Charity Surface, mom to Blake and Madison, and daughter to Papaw, said she could not be prouder of her two oldest children.
“I am proud of the success they each have,” Charity said. “The brotherhoods they have, the friendships they have, the knowledge… It’s awesome.”
Charity is a Ball State class of 95’ alumna, cementing her place among the generations of Surfaces who were also Cardinals. However, she wants to be known as a mom first, traveling to all three of her kids’ football games in different cities, and recently, different states.
This weekend, she will be donning her custom-made half-Ball State and half-Indiana State jersey when the two rivals meet at Scheumann Stadium Sept. 16 to cap off Ball State’s family weekend.
“It’s at the seamstress right now being made!” Charity said. “I am so very excited, [and] it really doesn’t matter who wins, I just want Blake, if he’s given the opportunity, to showcase his growth, his intensity, and his know-how.”
Excitement and pride aren’t the only emotions felt by Charity, though, as she, too, misses the relationship shared with her father, just like Madison and Blake.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Charity said. “Man, there’s always a moment before I go into any of these games where I just know how much he would have loved to see kids doing this sport that he loves so much.”
The connection every one of the Surfaces has to football drives them. Without the sport, without the love and relationships now intertwined with their family and communities because of it, they would not be in their current positions in life.
Whether on the field, in the stands, or in front of the camera, they’re furthering that connection with each other and with those they’ve lost but know are still watching. Football is a Surface legacy.