ORONO, Maine — After logging a ton of minutes during their stellar high school careers and earning Bangor Daily News All-Maine recognition, Maddy McVicar of Calais and Sierra Tapley of Bar Harbor have received limited playing time at the University of Maine.
Junior McVicar and sophomore Tapley, both guards, could have gone to a Division III school instead of Division I UMaine — and probably would have received a healthy amount of playing time.
But as they prepared for UMaine’s Saturday night game against eighth-ranked Texas in the program’s first NCAA tournament game since 2004, both said they have no regrets about their decisions.
“There’s no downfall to being here, really,” said McVicar, a two-time All-Maine second-teamer.
“Obviously, getting a scholarship is a huge part of it but here you grow to love your teammates. I have great coaches and great teammates. I’m getting better every day. These guys being better than me makes me be better.”
“Of course it’s worth it,” insisted Tapley, a former All-Maine third-team selection. “I’ve learned things I never would have learned anywhere else and I’m getting better every day in ways I wouldn’t have.”
McVicar has appeared in 31 of UMaine’s 32 games and is averaging 6.9 minutes while Tapley has seen duty in 14 games and is averaging 3.9 minutes.
Head coach Amy Vachon and their teammates said the Maine women are valuable parts of the team even if they don’t see much action.
McVicar and Tapley are part of the scout team. During practice, they run the upcoming opponents’ offensive sets and defensive schemes against the seven-player rotation Vachon has been using in games.
“They are perfect for the job,” said UMaine senior Kirsten Johnson. “They watch video (of the upcoming opponent) and really invest in it and take pride in it.”
“They push us so hard every day,” said junior guard Parise Rossignol of Van Buren. “And when they go off, they’re hard to stop. They’re super talented players. They mean a lot to this team.”
Sophomore guard Blanca Millan said she is often matched up against McVicar and finds it challenging.
“She works really hard and makes me work as hard as I need to. She makes me a better player,” Millan said.
Millan said McVicar and Tapley also have been valuable off the court, giving their teammates useful information about living in Maine.
“Even though they don’t play much, they bring energy to the gym every day and they’re always positive,” Millan said.
Tapley said she would like to play more but it doesn’t diminish the enjoyment she has received being part of the team.
“We’re family so it doesn’t matter if you play 40 minutes or zero minutes. you’re part of something bigger than yourself and that’s why I’m here,” said Tapley, a former Mount Desert Island High School star.
“Sure, I could go play 30 minutes at wherever, at a Division III school or somewhere like that. But am I going to get as good as I could be if I wasn’t playing against girls like these? Probably not,” McVicar said.
Tapley said her teammates “do a really good job making us feel important.”
“Everybody cares about each other,” said McVicar. “One person’s success is the entire team’s success. It’s great for all of us to have this opportunity. We’re thankful to be here.”
“What is so special about our team is everyone, 1 through 13, feels valued and everyone values each other,” said Vachon. “Everybody knows we wouldn’t be in this position without every single person.”
That said, being a reserve can be a challenge.
“It’s hard to be a role player and not get minutes. But when your teammates value you and your contributions, it really helps a lot,” said Vachon.
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