A visit with Maggie McNamara

By Pat Ruff

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Maggie McNamara is a Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School graduate who two weeks ago led her Concordia University, St. Paul volleyball team to the NCAA Division II national championship. McNamara, a sophomore, is a setter for the Golden Bears. For the second straight year, McNamara was named to the All-America team. She set the national record for set assists in a season last year, then broke that mark this year.

Post-Bulletin: Last year your Concordia team just missed getting to the national tournament, falling in the regional finals. This season you not only got to nationals, but you won it. What allowed your team to make that leap?

McNamara: Our team from this year to last year was totally different. This year we were all so young with 10 of our 13 players being sophomores and freshmen, whereas last year we had five senior starters. Being so young, we had nothing to lose, with only experience to gain. It was almost supposed to be a rebuilding year, but we exceeded the expectations that anyone had set for us. Towards the end we all became so close to each other and gained the confidence we needed to keep going. I think the chemistry and confidence definitely helped us win the national championship.


P-B: What were your expectations of your team when the season started?

McNamara: I knew that we could be great this year. We have a great coach who brought in some amazing freshmen. At the beginning I was a little nervous, and I knew it wouldn't be the easiest season, but it definitely turned out well. We had our ups and downs along the way, and we were all frustrated and unsure at some points during the season, but we got through it together. In the end we just kept doing our jobs and staying together as a team.

P-B: You played on the same Concordia team as your older sister Monica (then a senior) last year. What was that experience like and how different was it not having her out there this year?

McNamara: I don't know if I would have been as successful without her there. I knew that I could always look to her for advice and support throughout the year and season. She definitely made a difference being there for me. Having one year under my belt and knowing what to expect made it easier to not have her around this year. We are still close and we still support each other, but it would have been amazing to share a national championship and the experience with her.

P-B: You are just a sophomore, and already a two-time All-American and the national Division II record holder for assists in a season. Have your surprised even yourself with your success?

McNamara: I have definitely surprised myself these last two years. My coaches and teammates have given me the confidence and gotten me to where I am today. I’m only as good as the people and team that surrounds me; we are such a well-balanced team that there was no superstar.

P-B: You chose Concordia out of high school, though now it seems obvious that you're good enough to play at the Division I level. Any regrets about not playing Division I volleyball?

McNamara: No. I love it here. The big reason I came to Concordia was the coaching staff. They recruit awesome girls and give us a great atmosphere to play in. I get to have fun, and that's all I need and want. I don't want it to become a job like I think the Division I level can become. Also, since Concordia is so small, it's nice to have the support from everybody on campus.


P-B: You've already achieve so much at Concordia, both individually and as a team. What are you hoping for the next two years?

McNamara: I want to keep this going. After what we have accomplished this year, we will have a lot of pressure to be just as successful, and I would love that. We're only graduating one senior this year; I'm sad that Kate (Bennett) will be gone, but I'm just as excited to have another season with practically the same team as this year. We never would have accomplished what we did if we didn't love each other like we do. I think we are all already looking forward to next season.

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