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Notre Dame product Maggie Pina now playing two sports at Boston University

02/02/2023, 3:00pm EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Around this time last year, Maggie Pina was unsure what her future in college athletics would look like. 

In the midst of the worst season of her basketball career at Boston University and playing for a new coach, Pina thought she might just have one more season to suit up for the Terriers then be forced to finish off her career elsewhere, or stay at BU but not play hoops.

Now in her senior year, Pina knows she has not one but two seasons of college sports after this one — her fifth season of basketball and second in field hockey.

The Notre Dame Academy product, once a D-I field hockey commit, tried out for the Terriers’ field hockey team last spring and played for them this fall. The senior is in the midst of the best season of her college hoops career and still has a graduate season in both sports to play as well before heading to law school.

“I actually had a lot more time than I was expecting,” Pina said of the two-sport experience. “Everyone was like, ‘Your body’s going to be tired. You’re gonna need more sleep. You’re not going to have any time for anything but school. Are you sure this is what you want to be doing?

“But I think so far, this has been my favorite year at BU and in every possible way: academically, socially, athletically.”

Notre Dame product Maggie Pina is playing both basketball and field hockey at Boston University. (Photo: Courtesy Matt Woolverton)

Pina’s crossroads with the two sports began in high school. Basketball was her first love. When she entered high school (where she also played lacrosse), the goal was to earn a scholarship for hoops at the next level. Through her first three seasons of high school ball and grassroots hoops playing for the Chester County Wizards, the college interest never came. Her flame seemed to burn out.

She never played travel field hockey, but she played alongside some national-level recruits like Lauren Curran (William & Mary), Mia Leonhardt (UNC) and Tina D’Anjolell (Michigan)  

during her time with the Irish. She received an offer to play at Villanova following her junior season, when she earned first team All-Inter Ac honors in 2017, and committed to play field hockey for the Wildcats in April 2018.

“I accepted the offer to Villanova that April after just having played high school and playing with some of the top high school players in the country at the time,” Pina said. “Obviously we had some national attention on us and coaches knew and with Villanova being right down the road knew of me on the team. 

“I had never really played field hockey competitively until after I committed. I’d pick my stick up for preseason in August and I put it down in October and never really think about it again. Basketball had always been my main sport, the one that I had worked at since I was eight years old.”

Despite having her future collegiate plans seemingly secured, Pina was approached by Comets director Linda Genther, who coached her as an assistant at Notre Dame, about playing with the program in the summer.

Knowing many of the players, including her close friend and neighbor Mandy McGurk (Penn), after starting with the Comets several years prior, she decided to enjoy a final AAU hoops season.

“I told Linda, I’m committed to Villanova but these are my friends I’ve known since I was little. I’ll play a last season of AAU with you,” Pina said. “Basically, I don’t expect any offers and I told her ‘stop reaching out to people and telling them I need to play basketball. I’m playing something else.’”

So she thought.

Former BU assistant Kate Barnowski recruited Pina to Tufts University when she was still planning on playing college hoops. While Barnowski watched some of the other Patriot League-bound players on the Comets roster, Pina once again caught her eye.

Then-Terriers coach Marisa Moseley offered Pina an opportunity to walk-on to the team. With coaxing from Moseley and her father, she visited campus, but her response was, “Great, I'm still signed with Villanova. Thanks.”

A few weeks later, Moseley came back with a full scholarship offer. This time Pina couldn’t pass it up. Not long after, she let Villanova field hockey coach Joanie Milllhouse know she wouldn’t be heading to the Main Line and told Mosely she was Boston bound.

“I always pictured myself at Villanova,” Pina said. “Notre Dame is really similar to Villanova, so that just always felt like home to me. Close to home, family connection there, everyone from near Philly dreams of going to Villanova because it’s Villanova. And I realized, $80,000 per year is very hard to say no to regardless of not being as in love with basketball as I had been when I started my high school career.”

Pina was an immediate impact player at BU as a freshman in 2019-20, earning the conference’s Patriot League Rookie of the Year Award. She started 23 of 30 games, averaging 11.5 ppg (second on the team) and shooting 38.9 percent from deep. The Terries finished 18-12 overall and 12-6 in the Patriot League, winning their opening round game of the league tournament before COVID canceled the rest.

She didn’t shoot the ball as well as a sophomore but started all 15 games, helping the Terriers to a 12-3 (10-2 Patriot League) record and a conference title game appearance. 

After averaging a career low in points last season, BU's Maggie Pina is having the best shooting season of her career as a senior. (Photo: Courtesy Matt Woolverton)

Moseley became the head coach at Wisconsin after Pina’s sophomore season and Melissa Graves, now in her second season leading the Terriers, took over the program in April 2021. Pina still started 23 of 31 games she played last season, but she saw her minutes dip and scoring average drop to a career-low 4.7 ppg. She wasn’t sure if the extra/fifth year of eligibility she originally planned to take advantage of would be available for her at BU. That’s when the thoughts of playing field hockey first transpired.

“I wasn’t sure with the new coaching staff and I always heard how good the BU field hockey team was,” Pina said. “... I kind of was just trying to figure out all my options and didn’t want to get myself too hopeful about getting my hopes of playing anywhere for a fifth year of basketball and realizing I came off of my worst year of college basketball last year and wasn’t sure how this year was going to go. I didn't think I’d be able to go anywhere I want to be to play basketball or academically if I was having another terrible year.”

Pina made plans with BU field hockey coach Sally Starr to try out for the field hockey team once hoops season ended in March with a Patriot League semifinal loss. She proved that she could at least hang. Pina was told there wasn’t a scholarship spot but the Terriers could use some extra bodies around to practice if she was still around for a fifth year. 

To Pina’s surprise, Starr eventually said there was a spot open to play during her senior season before basketball as well. Graves gave her the green light to play.

“Basketball-wise, she was like ‘as long as you’re not getting hurt and as long as you’re not missing basketball practice, I’m all for it,’” Pina said. “I think it’s a great opportunity that so few kids get to have. They kind of helped me work out a schedule where I could do both.”

Pina saw action in 12 games for the Terriers as a reserve this season. She managed her classwork and practice schedules without much conflict until the location of the Patriot League Tournament switched from Boston to Washington D.C.

The Terriers advanced to the league title game Nov. 5, where Pina fell to Lehigh in a conference championship for the second time in her college career. Two days later she was on the floor starting BU’s season opener against Northeastern, where she scored 14 points in 34 minutes.

“(Graves) was like, ‘I never have any doubt you understanding our plan. You always study our scout. You understand what we need and what’s going on with the other team and don’t get confused anyways,’” Pina said. “She sent me down there for (the Patriot League field hockey tournament), which was great and my teammates were calling me and sending me papers saying, like, ‘You’re guarding this girl. These are her tendencies. This is how we’re guarding a certain play.”

The strong opener was a sign of things to come this season for Pina. She’s started in all 21 games for the Terriers, who are 15-6 overall and lead the Patriot League with a 10-0 mark. 

Personally, she’s had a bounce-back senior campaign. She is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg, and is shooting 46.1 percent of the field and 43.4 percent from 3-point range — both career highs.

“I think this year, I’m definitely a lot more comfortable,” Pina said. “My role this year is shoot whenever you can, whenever you catch the ball. I think last year, trying to figure out where I was getting the ball from and where I would be open when my teammates were attacking where I could find the openings for them to pass it to me was a little bit of an adjustment.

“I think now that I've settled down more and understand our offense and the flow of it a little better, my teammates are able to find me there and have me contribute more as a shooter and facilitator this year.”

Pina is already working toward her graduate degree, which will continue to be paid for next year as she plays her second season for the field hockey team and is on scholarship for her fifth basketball season in 2023-24.

She plans to head to law school after she leaves BU and said she would like to be a criminal defense attorney. Had she gone to Villanova, she would have started out studying nursing.

“I’m sure I would have loved my time at Villanova had I gone there,” Pina said. “Maybe I would have said, ‘Yes, I made the right choice.’ But coming to a school like BU, having my education paid for, being able to graduate early and also get a master’s paid for, which I started this year, and now playing two sports here is so, so rare at any level in college sports, but especially at the Division I level has been amazing. All the girls, all my coaching staff have been great.”

“It’s two very extreme differences in my life, but I can’t really complain about my career here at BU.”

Pina said she’s having more fun than any of her other years at BU. She hopes that this basketball season concludes with her first Patriot League title and NCAA tournament appearance. She will have two more chances as well.

“Hopefully the end goal is still to win, hopefully I can still leave her with three Patriot League rings, win out the rest of my seasons here,” Pina said. “I know my team, especially my senior class coming in, the semifinal game was canceled my freshman year when we had a really good team. We had one of the worst games of the season and lost in the championship here my sophomore year. Last year, having another atrocious game and getting kicked out of the tournament, that’s our class’s last big goal. We’ve set a lot of other standards really high for basketball and that’s just our final one that we’re really looking forward to.”

She’ll stay busy after the conclusion of her basketball season with the field hockey team’s spring practices and games, and basketball workouts. When she returns home in the summer, the focus will be on the field hockey fitness packet and basketball-type workouts.

She believes her schedule will allow her to fit in hoops practices around her field hockey schedule once again next fall. Though she hopes next, she will have another scheduling conflict.

“We’ll definitely have to figure out some planning there, but I’m hoping that has to happen and hoping that my first game of basketball and the NCAA tournament doesn’t conflict,” Pina said. “But that would not be the worst thing in the world in my mind.”

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