WATERTOWN – In a way, Watertown-Mayer junior Maggie Czinano has been through this all already. Like her older sister, Monika, dealt with the journey of recruiting, that helped create a goal for herself going forward – to go from a small-town high school basketball player to a Division I basketball player.
“I’ve seen my sister do it and that sparked the dream in me,” Czinano said. “It was easier because Monika had gone through the process and so had my mom. The process can be overwhelming, but with my mom and Monika, they eased that pressure and made it enjoyable. I know I didn’t want it to be done after high school. So, from there it was pushing myself, especially in the offseason, to reach that goal.”
The goal became a reality earlier this month as Czinano announced her commitment to the University of Minnesota, a place that felt right for her.
“I know I wanted to stay close to home so the schools out east were too far,” Czinano said. “When I started talking to Minnesota, I knew it was a good distance. My family could come to a lot of my games, and all the coaches were really easy to connect with. Of course, being able to play against my sister one year was a dream and something many people do not get to do. Playing for my home state means a lot.”
Czinano’s growth as a player has been on display over the past few seasons. She took a big step forward in her junior season, with the help of her coaches and teammates.
“As far as who pushed me, I’ve had great coaches that have helped me develop my heart for the game and push me,” Czinano said. “Coach John Rosholt, my high school coach, has helped me work my defense and has forever humbled me. He has shown me that you have to work for what you want. I’m not sure he knows my first name though. I was ‘little Czinano’ for a while, and then just ‘No. 5’.”
The Amateur Athletic Union has also played a big role in Czinano’s development. Playing for the Minnesota Fury, she got the chance to play with and against some of the top talents in the state.
“I’ve played for them for five years, starting on their second team,” Czinano said. “I played three years on that team and then just this last season, I got pulled up to play for Tim Peper on the elite team. My teammates have pushed me each and every practice to be the best player I can be as they are some of the best players in the state.”
While playing varsity and AAU has developed Czinano’s skills over the years, she’s also grown mentally as a player. She’s learning the little things that set players apart from being good and great.
“To play at this level, you have to have a solid work ethic and be really competitive,” Czinano said. “I don’t like losing, so that pushes me. You also have to be selfless and play for your team, knowing that when you succeed, your team succeeds. That was probably the biggest take-away from AAU, the desire for everyone to succeed.”
In her junior season, Czinano averaged 21.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. That stat line helped her earn being named to the Class AA All-State Team. While her junior season was one to remember, she’s ready to finish out her career at W-M as a leader in more than one way.
“I want to make my time as a Royal mean something,” Czinano said. “I want little girls to know that even though they come from a small town, they can make it big. It just takes heart. I’d love to get back to St. Cloud in my senior season and finish business that we fell short of this year.”
When Czinano’s high school career does come to an end next season, more excitement awaits for her. Not only will she be achieving her goal of playing college basketball, but there will also be a familiar face on the Iowa Hawkeyes team when they meet the Gophers.
“I’m stoked to play against Monika,” Czinano said. “Not a lot of girls get to play with their sister in high school and then against them in the Big 10. It’s a given that the Gophers will win, so the big question is, ‘what’s my mom going to wear?’”