washingtonpost.com  > Columns > The Adventures of Maggie

The Adventures of Maggie

A continuing saga

Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page W05

Previously: Unhappy with her team's performance, Catholic University women's basketball coach Maggie Lonergan decided to bench one of her starting players: forward Jane Maybury. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.

Episode 11

With 16 seconds left in a game against conference rival Salisbury University, Maggie Lonergan gestured to the 6-foot forward silently fuming on the Catholic bench. Junior Jane Maybury hadn't played a single minute. Now she balked at the last-second cue from her coach to go onto the court: "I thought [that] was unfair and degrading, so I refused to go in the game."

The Adventures of Maggie
The Adventures of Maggie
(Photo by D.A. Peterson)

Maggie was floored. She says she's never had a player refuse to check into a game. But before Maggie could ponder her player's defiance, Maybury made another announcement during the game: "I'm not going to practice tomorrow." Maybury was fed up with riding the bench and even more fed up with her coach. She had decided to quit.

Maggie was shocked, but not sure whether Maybury was serious, she says. She decided not to discuss it with Maybury that night. She wanted to see if she would show up for practice the next day. She didn't.

Maybury's decision to walk away from the team was the culmination of two up-and-down seasons. Early last season, Maggie pulled her from the starting lineup. The coach did the same thing again a few weeks ago, dissatisfied with Maybury's play.

Since then, Maybury "just looked to me like she was going through the motions," Maggie says.

Maybury says she wasn't getting any feedback from her coach: "She never communicated anything to me. So I didn't even know what I needed to do to get my spot back."

The day after the Salisbury game, Maybury stopped by Maggie's office before practice to lay out her grievances. You never told me why you're not playing me, she says she complained to Maggie. She also accuses Maggie of playing favorites.

Maggie denies that's true. "Whether I like someone or not, if they're going to produce, I'm going to play them." There was never any mystery about what Maybury needed to do, Maggie says. Play hard, and help the team win games.

At 32, Maggie still speaks scornfully about her own college coach at Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg, Md., who pitted players against each other. Maggie says she wants to be liked by her players. Yet she harbors an even stronger desire -- the desire to win. So Maggie did not try to talk Maybury into reconsidering.

"I don't think Jane dislikes me," Maggie says. "I think she dislikes the fact that she was not playing."

After speaking to Maggie, Maybury sent an e-mail to her teammates. "Well girls, this is sad for me to do, but I just wanted to let you girls know before Maggie told you, that I'm not gonna play anymore this year. I went to talk to her today, and needless to say, it didn't go well . . . So really girls, kick ass and don't listen to her, just play for yourselves."

"Everyone is bummed out that she's not playing anymore," says center Haley Jones, a co-captain of the team. "We'll be okay, but it's going to be a big difference." Without Maybury, the Cardinals have a roster of only nine players in the main rotation. The team cannot afford a single injury, Maggie says. And no one is allowed to get sick.

Maggie didn't dwell on Maybury's departure; her team is on a hot streak with 10 straight wins. Maybury has also moved on. "I'm going to be happier now," she says. "I was miserable." And basketball is still in her life. "I'm playing intramurals now . . . It's fun. We won our first game."

-Tyler Currie

© 2005 The Washington Post Company