“My dad is the coach of a boys’ team and whenever they needed a 10th player I always got to play with them,” said Mayza, a freshman point guard for the University of Hartford women’s basketball team.
Mayza’s older brother, Tim, excels in baseball and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays last year. He was one of the boys on their father’s team. “Having an older brother around meant I always played with the guys. My dad and brother have been the most influential people for me as an athlete. Having my brother there the whole time I was growing up, beating me up in the backyard, just made me tougher. My dad is the one that got me playing basketball and always helped me work on my skills.”The strong competition in her formative years only helped Mayza flourish. By the beginning of her junior year at The Hill School in Pennsylvania, she was being contacted by several colleges. Mayza, who went on to set records as the school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball (1,222 points) and soccer (67 goals), says the University of Hartford was the one institution that made sure to stay in touch with her beyond the initial contact.
“A lot of the schools just make contact once and then you don’t hear from them again whereas the coaches at Hartford just continued to stay in touch with me throughout the process. My brother looked at Hartford when he was considering schools so I knew a little bit about it,” said Mayza.Mayza wasn’t sure what degree she wanted to pursue and saw that as an important consideration in addition to the opportunity to play basketball. “I thought that Hartford offered the most options for me to consider since I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. The coaching staff is great too and knowing coach Rizzotti was here made me want to pursue it.
With her being a point guard in college and playing in the WNBA it made me want to come here and learn from the best.”
Mayza lived on campus during her senior year at The Hill School, so she was used to being away from home. Still, she says she has already learned quite a bit in just one semester at Hartford. As a Division I student-athlete she sees the importance of budgeting her time well.
“During the season we don’t have a lot of free time. There is a lot to juggle just between classes and playing basketball. The coaches always make sure that we have time for study hall, even when we’re on the road. I’m learning how important it is to be proactive with my professors so that I can get things done before we go on a road trip.”
One of the best parts about her basketball experience so far is not what happens on the court, it’s the team camaraderie.
“Our team chemistry off the court is great. Everyone hangs out and we all have a good time together. We have a little more free time during the winter break when there are no other students on campus so we’re always together. We’re either playing Rock Band or doing something else outside of basketball. We just have fun with each other.”One of the things the team does off the court is community service work. It’s something Mayza says she has always enjoyed.
“When I was in high school I used to help out my Dad with youth programs. We would do basketball clinics and I loved it. Now that I’m here we’re doing things like going to children’s hospitals. We go to elementary schools and read to the kids and talk to them. It’s always nice to spend time with them.”Mayza describes herself as “feisty” and as a successful student-athlete, it’s not surprising to hear that she’s very competitive both on and off the court. As a freshman she still has plenty of time to decide on a future career path but she already has a pretty good idea of what she wants to try first.
“Seeing my older brother get drafted and knowing that he is going to live his dream in baseball makes me want to do the same. Playing somewhere professionally has always been a dream and something I want to pursue. Whether it’s academics or pursuing something else I feel like I have this drive to do well. I know that will help me going forward.”For now, Mayza is enjoying life as a collegian. Her basketball skills and ambition make it clear that she will be a valuable asset for her Hartford team, and perhaps for a professional team one day in the future.