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For Villanova Star Maddy Siegrist, an early rejection was motivating

Maddy Siegrist watched her phone closely.

Siegrist, then a seventh-grader, had tried out for the St. Martin De Porres basketball team earlier that day, and the coach was supposed to call the players that night to let them know if they were part of Team A or Team B. . Finally, Siegrist’s phone rang. She didn’t like the news: she had only made the B team.

With tears in her eyes and trembling lips, Siegrist told her parents, who at first wondered if something more serious had happened.

“I’m like, ‘It’s okay, honey, it’ll be fine,'” her father, George Siegrist, recalled with a laugh. “And she goes, ‘No, dad, it won’t.

So that night in November 2013, George Siegrist remembers his daughter turning on the lights in their driveway and taking pictures until it was time for bed. That winter, she started shoveling heavy snow down that driveway to make way for training. The following year, Siegrist made the A team – and hasn’t played on a B team since.

“It was a turning point in his early career,” said George Siegrist, who played college basketball at Marist. “She decided she didn’t like having that feeling.”

“I’m a super competitive person,” said Maddy Siegrist, “and I never wanted to be on a second team again.”

Siegrist, now a 6-foot-2 Villanova forward, has become one of Division I basketball’s top players, leading the division in scoring and breaking records en route to securing her team a fourth seed. series in this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament, where Villanova (28-6) hosts No. 13 Cleveland State (30-4) on Saturday. In a year when it looked like Villanova basketball might fade from importance due to the retirement of school men’s coach Jay Wright, Siegrist’s season placed her among Philadelphia’s biggest sports stars.

“It was kind of like, here’s an opportunity to really make some noise and make our mark, and you know that’s really getting attention,” Villanova coach Denise Dillon said. “When you release a good product and you have a star that people want to see, people come out.”

Philadelphia is known for its crazy sports fans, especially for professional teams like the Eagles and Sixers. Fans are infamous for climbing greased poles and reveling in the party streets. For much of the 1980s and 1990s, Temple men’s coach John Chaney captured the city’s attention with competitive seasons and multiple deep tournament runs.

But for much of the past two decades, Villanova — with two men’s basketball championships — has also captured its share of local attention. Now, attention at Villanova has turned to the women’s program, primarily because of Siegrist’s play. “They treat Maddy the same way they treat the Sixers,” said Wright, who retired after last season.

Wright remembers arriving at his office as early as 7 a.m. some days and leaving as late as 10 p.m., and looking out the window because he heard a basketball bouncing from the gymnasium of women’s workout nearby. “I was always checking just to see, like, who would be there that late or who would be there that early?” says Wright. “And it was always Maddy.”

Siegrist’s most impressive game this season came when she scored 50 points against Seton Hall. That night she showed her versatility in attack, using post and dribbling moves for scoring, and also running and making clean cuts without the ball to open up. Her 50 points were a program and a conference record, and Siegrist accomplished the feat in just 32 minutes, relatively low playing time for her.

“We don’t often get the chance to give her a rest,” said Dillon, who said she had taken Siegrist out of the game before being told by Villanova’s director of sports information that she would was close to breaking the school record for points in a game and then close to scoring 50.” So we kept her there when she got to 50, but I was joking like, ‘We’re pressing our luck here.'”

Jalen Brunson, a former Villanova guard who now plays for the Knicks, said Villanova should remove Siegrist’s jersey ‘as soon as she’s done’ after this performance.

In Villanova’s next game against St. John’s, dozens of fans, mostly young girls, rushed to the bottom of the stands after the game with pens, markers and papers. as they argued over Siegrist’s autographwhich she signed after scoring 39 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

“I remember how impressionable I was at that age watching other talented college players, so you just want to be a great role model for them,” Siegrist said.

While she was the same age as these autograph seekers, she thought her basketball career was over after being kicked out of the St. Martin De Porres A team. She and her family are still close with coach, Jerry Fiore, who was on the other end of the line that night many years ago. Fiore has even attended some of his matches this season; no one allows him to forget this moment.

“You know, he helped Maddy become the player she is,” George Siegrist said.

sports Gt

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