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The Adventures of Maggie

A continuing saga

Sunday, January 16, 2005; Page W06

Our story so far: Maggie Lonergan can't stroll across the hall at Catholic University to see her husband, Mike, anymore. His new job as an assistant men's coach at the University of Maryland means he's gone for long stretches at a time. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.

Episode 5

"WHERE'S DADDY?" asks 4-year-old Margaret Lonergan, sitting beside her mother and 5-year-old brother, Jack, for tonight's men's basketball game at the University of Maryland.

(Photo by D.A. Peterson)

"You gotta stand up, so I can show him to you," Maggie says.

They are seated right behind the Terrapins' bench at Comcast Center. Mike is only a few feet away from them, but Margaret's view is blocked by the people in front of her.

Maggie and the kids don't see much of Mike these days. This morning, he left for work right after Sunday Mass.

Maggie and Mike have always had a relationship rooted in basketball. They met in 1991 as counselors at a basketball camp at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md. "He robbed the cradle," Maggie laughs. She was a 19-year-old point guard at Mount St. Mary's. He was a 25-year-old assistant coach at Colgate University in Upstate New York. For their first date, Mike took Maggie to a dingy gym in Washington where he was playing in a summer league. "That was real romantic," she says sarcastically. "But it was actually right in tune with what I like to do."

For the next several years, Mike would attend Maggie's games when not coaching his own team. The relationship was low-key and long-distance, but Maggie says they both knew they would end up together. They married in 1998 and eventually became a coaching duo at Catholic for three seasons, with Mike running the men's program and Maggie running the women's program.

Landing the job at Maryland, a Division I powerhouse, was a coup for Mike, though Maggie says it hasn't been easy for him to get used to being an assistant coach again. "He was a head coach for so long, running his own program," she says. "He's had some rough days."

Once Maryland's game against Florida State gets underway, Maggie's own coaching instincts kick in. During timeouts she leans forward toward the Terps' bench to hear what plays are being called. Sometimes she nods in agreement. Other times she yells out ideas of her own.

"You need more rebounders," she shouts to the Maryland coaching staff. At one point, Mike turns around and flashes a smile of recognition.

Maryland ekes out an overtime win, and Mike and the Terps disappear into the locker room. Maggie and the kids remain near their seats. It's a school night, and Maggie says she isn't going to wait around long for her husband to come out to say hello.

"I want to see D-A-D," Margaret says.

"I think D-A-D is out of L-U-C-K," Maggie answers, checking the time.

Just then, Margaret spots him at the edge of the court. She runs out of the stands and wraps her arms around his legs. "Great game," Maggie says when Mike makes his way over. He hugs her, and they briefly kiss. Mike says he's glad they won because now the post-game team meeting will be short, and he can get home to Bowie more quickly.

"Put those kids to bed," he says to Maggie as she, Margaret and Jack head for the exit.

-- Tyler Currie

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