HERSHEY >> As she waited at the end of the line of Upper Dublin players for her state championship medal, the emotions hit Maggie Weglos.
The senior co-captain placed her right hand over her face as Nicole Kaiser embraced her. It wasn’t the moment or the accomplishment, but knowing that one of her biggest fans hadn’t been there in person to see it was what got to Weglos.
After she wiped away the tears, got her medal and a hug from coach Morgan Funsten, Weglos was in the middle of the team’s celebration with the trophy. For the described “heart and soul” of the Cardinals, it was the perfect ending to her basketball career.
“My aunt passed away earlier in the season, we were really close and I thought she was with me throughout all of the state playoffs,” Weglos said. “I got really emotional and I was thinking we worked so hard to get here, we really got here and I couldn’t be more proud of the team. I love all the girls, they’re my best friends and I wouldn’t want to spend it with anyone else.”
Her aunt, Sally Gray, passed away in January and it was difficult for the senior guard. Family is a huge deal to Weglos, and her parents Mark and Cathy, brother Zach and grandpop Stan were at nearly every game this season, as was her aunt for most of her playing days.
“She was one of my best friends, I could talk to her about anything,” Weglos said. “She lived in Wynnewood, so she was never too far. She was my biggest supporter; she would always come out to games and always just support me. She meant a lot to me and I just thought she was there with me.”
The type of player who could impact a game without scoring, she posted a perfectly Weglos line in her last competitive game. In UD’s 41-38 win over CB South, the senior didn’t record a point, had four rebounds, six assists and just two turnovers in 31 minutes.
It was her pass that found Jess Polin for a game-tying three at the halftime buzzer and despite managing some foul trouble, she played solid defense as usual. She spent most of the game covering South point guard Alexa Brodie, who scored 20 points but shot 6-of-20 in doing so.
“I don’t care if I score, it’s all the outcome of the game,” Weglos said. “It really doesn’t matter to me; I think other people’s success is as good as mine. I try not to focus on myself too much because if a girl’s on and I’m feeding it to her, I’m so confident the shot is going to go in and I have all the trust in the world in the my teammates. I don’t worry about what’s happening for me.”
Weglos has decided to attend James Madison University next fall and not continue her athletic career but she’s not done with the game either. She hopes to major in communications and involve sports somehow and for the moment, she’s trying her hand at coaching.
After playing AAU for Fencor since middle school, Weglos is now helping her coach Gary Christian as an assistant for a ninth-grade team in the organization.
“We are not close to the spot we are in right now if not for her,” Funsten said. “You talk about the younger girls on the team and Maggie is the No. 1 person to give them the confidence they had to do what they did all season. She’s the heart and soul and even with foul trouble (Tuesday), she kept her head up and helped us get some stops on Brodie at the end.”
While she was the team’s vocal leader this year, the speech-giver, the one there clapping and encouraging on every play, Weglos was awed by her younger teammates’ composure. She plans to be at UD games when she’s home on break next year and had no hesitation in handing over the keys to the Cardinals’ underclassmen after the state title game.
She helped author history at Upper Dublin, but doesn’t think the story is over yet. Whether it be Polin, Jackie Vargas, Dayna Balasa or any other of the returning players, Weglos saw enough to know their future is bright and they’ve only started to tap into their potential.”
“They all have that mentality as players where they only want to get better,” Weglos said. “That’s something you look up to, even me as a senior, I’m older than them but I really love their work ethic and it’s really inspiring to me.”
There were plenty of obstacles for the Cardinals this season. For Weglos, it was dealing with the loss of one of the most important people in her life off the court and trying to push the right buttons and say the right things to a young group that wasn’t always sure of itself.
For most of the season, UD couldn’t win a close game. It seemed like that was going to be the thing that held the Cardinals back, because Weglos and Kasier knew they had the talent to compete with anybody else. It prompted them to address the team and relay that.
Upper Dublin won its last eight games and six of them were by less than 10 points as the Cardinals closed out close game after close game to take District I’s ninth seed and then advance through states.
“You always face obstacles in life and things may not always go your way but it’s how you handle those,” Weglos said. “This season, we had so many obstacles and so many hardships, it taught me that I need to prepare not only myself but other people around me for ‘how am I going to handle these challenges’ and ‘how are the girls around me going to handle it’ and it really helped me for life. College isn’t easy, it’s a challenge and only supposed to make you grow as a person and I think I’m well-prepared for it.”
As serious as Weglos was during the season, she also had plenty of fun taking in every moment of states. She was one of the first Cardinals to go down to the Giant Center floor, the team had lunch together and toured Chocolate World before heading to the arena and after getting their medals, she let Kaiser take the trophy while she went right for the five-pound Hershey bar.
All throughout the state tournament, the admittedly superstitious Weglos wore the same black-and-red sweatpants and one of her brother’s old hoodies, a maroon-and-gold number from his time at Norwich College that served as a lucky charm.
Regarding the trophy, she got her hands on that later. A photo showed Weglos, wearing her lucky hoodie and sweats, on the concourse of the Giant Center, trophy in possession with a jubilant smile across her face.
“It’s crazy, it’s going to hit me and I’ll probably be crying even more,” Weglos said. “The fact I got to play my last game of basketball ever winning a state championship is insane and I couldn’t have asked to do it with any other people.
“I’m so excited to come back next year. Mr. Funsten, (assistant coaches) Moni and Shi (Newman), they’re some of the best coaches I’ve ever had and the girls are so blessed to have them in their lives because they teach you such great lessons. I’m just excited to see these girls grow up the next few years.”