While senior Maggie Pina is known at Boston University for her contributions to the women’s basketball team, she set out to become something that is becoming increasingly rare in collegiate athletics: a dual-sport athlete.
Playing in Case Gym was far from Pina’s original plans as the West Chester, Pennsylvania native had initially committed to play field hockey at Villanova University. This Fall, Pina is returning to her field hockey roots.
“[Villanova] was the only offer I had for either sport at that time,” Pina said. “[I committed] just because I was super close to Villanova.”
Despite committing to the Catholic university outside of Philadelphia, Pina still played club basketball the summer before her senior year. Then in the fall of her senior year of high school, BU’s women’s basketball coach at the time, Marisa Moseley, reached out to Pina.
Since Pina was already committed, she was not interested, but in a concession to her father, she visited BU.
“My dad really thought this would be the perfect fit for me, so he really pushed it to an annoying point,” Pina said. “Eventually I agreed to just come on a visit here basically just to shut him up and be like I looked at it and didn’t like it.”
There was one problem with her plan: Pina fell in love with the women’s basketball program. However, she still was not completely sold.
“[I] really liked the girls, I loved the coaching staff,” Pina said. “Coach [Mosely] came with an offer for me to be a walk-on, and I respectfully declined because it’s a lot of money to go to college.”
However, a few weeks later, the situation with BU’s roster had changed. A player had decommitted, which allowed coach Mosely to offer Pina a full scholarship.
“[The basketball scholarship was] just really hard to say no to from a financial standpoint,” Pina reflected. “I also plan to go to grad school so that lightens the burden there for me too.”
Pina succeeded in her freshman year at Boston University averaging 11.5 points per game and winning the Patriot League Rookie of the Year Award in 2020. But when the COVID-19 pandemic sent students home, she realized how much she missed field hockey.
“It really came up [during] COVID summer, so the summer after my freshman year,” Pina said. “I brought it up to my parents [that] I really missed field hockey, and I want to try and play. I think just being locked up in my house with nothing to do kind of drove me a little crazy.”
With the extra year of eligibility, a lighter class load, and a new basketball coaching staff, Pina realized that her field hockey days might not be over. She spoke to both her basketball head coach Melissa Graves and field hockey head coach Sally Starr about using a graduate year of eligibility to play field hockey.
When Pina talked to Graves, Graves was supportive of her dual-sport ambitions.
“She had asked … if she would be able to potentially try out for field hockey,” Graves said. “So I said, ‘Of course.’ I really wanted to support her. I knew it would make her happy.”
From the field hockey perspective, Coach Starr was skeptical about Pina’s skills at first.
“Quite honestly, I was not really sure because she hadn’t played for four years,” Starr said about adding Pina to her team, “but I was definitely willing to give her a try.”
After practicing with the team for a few weeks, Starr was impressed with Pina’s skills and wanted to add her to the roster.
Now that Pina is a dual-sport athlete, load management is key.
“I talked to Sally … We’re very much on the same page,” Graves said. “(I) need for Maggie to communicate to her how her body feels so we can manage her loads.”
Understanding that there is a delicate balance to manage, coach Starr respects Pina’s priorities.
“She’s on a basketball scholarship,” Starr said. “That has to be her number one priority, and I appreciate that.”
Right now Pina is balancing the field hockey season with the basketball preseason. With career aspirations of going to law school, becoming a dual-sport athlete not only allows Pina to pursue her interests, but also prepare for her future aspirations.
“I plan to go to law school either to become a criminal justice defense attorney, or maybe the FBI,” Pina said. “I think also just having so much going on will really be an asset to me in law school, being able to do time management and get through everything I have to in limited amounts of time.”