Maureen Magarity grew up in a “basketball family” and around a father who was a successful Division I Head Men’s Basketball Coach, but that has not stopped her from creating her own legacy as both a player and coach. A wife and mother to two young daughters, Charlotte (5) and Caroline (2), she is doing so while never forgetting the importance of family.
Magarity grew up in Poughkeepsie, NY where her father, Dave, was the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Marist College from 1986 to 2004. She feels her parents did an amazing job of putting the children first, which led to some of her favorite childhood memories of road trips with the team or when the team would come over to their house for holidays. “I had a wonderful childhood growing up as a coach’s kid and was really fortunate that my father was at the same school for 18 years” said Magarity. “Of course the whole family felt the pressure to win and in a small town where that was the biggest game around. People could be heartless, but I learned from a young age that you can’t get caught up in listening to what other people say and that everyone has an opinion, especially when you lose.”
While her father was leading Marist to over 250 wins during his tenure, Maureen learned just as much off the court from her mother, Rita. “My mother is the rock of the family and I learned so much from her now that I have my own girls. It’s so important to keep things in perspective and to always put your family first, whether you are having a winning season or a losing season. Your kids don’t care how many games you win, they want to have your attention and be included,” said Magarity.
After playing for a season at Boston College, Magarity would return to Poughkeepsie to play at the school her father coached, Marist. During her three seasons at Marist, she would be a two-time MAAC All-Conference Team selection and lead the program to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 2004.
Following graduation, it was a natural transition into coaching for Magarity. After a season of coaching at both Marist and Fairfield, Magarity became an Assistant Coach at Army under her father, who was now the Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “My Dad has been my biggest mentor through the years,” said Magarity. “He is the first one I call if I need advice or just need to vent. Having the opportunity to work with him for four years at West Point was the best experience of my coaching career. I learned so much from him on a daily basis that has helped me here at UNH. He has always been about building relationships and trust with his players. The best advice he ever gave me was to be a “player’s coach”, meaning to always make sure your players know that you care about them off the court as much as you do on the court. I have learned that when you take the time to do this in our hectic schedule, even if it is for a few minutes a day, your players genuinely know you care.”
In 2010, Magarity was offered an opportunity to lead her own Division I program at the University of New Hampshire. She was tasked with rebuilding a program that had not won more than nine games during each of the previous four seasons prior to her arrival and created a positive mindset as soon as she stepped on campus. Magarity said, “From my first day at UNH, I felt it was important to just be myself. I was the youngest head coach in the country (29) at the time when I was hired and I went into the job with energy, enthusiasm and a “nothing to lose” attitude. I feel that the team bought into the same attitude and were excited to have someone that believed in them.”
In 2016-17, Magarity’s hard work paid off, as she led the program to its first American East Regular Season Championship, as well as a program-record 26 overall and 15 America East Conference wins. This on-court success resulted in her being named the conference’s Coach of the Year. This rebuild did not happen overnight though. “I emphasized the importance of building trusting relationships and holding each other accountable every day both on and off the court,” said Magarity. “It was really special to see how much the players grew from year one to year two with their confidence and commitment to each other and the program. Those same points of emphasis that helped us rebuild in our first few years and still so integral in our program today.”
Magarity has learned a lot during her eight seasons as the Head Coach at New Hampshire, which she is willing to pass on to other coaches looking to achieve a coveted Division I Head Coach position. “Learn from every experience, both good and bad, and take something away from every situation they are in. Live in the moment and enjoy where you are at today. I think too many of us in this business are always scheming our next move and don’t truly get to enjoy the success and happiness that comes with each season. And lastly, coaching is a lifestyle, not a job. I think you truly happy in this profession when you know you are making a positive impact in young people’s lives.”
Magarity has made an impact on numerous lives throughout her career, all while emphasizing the approach that she grew up learning from her parents, family first.
Written originally for CollegeInsider.com on December 26, 2017.