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‘A leader by example’: Maggie McCrary reflects on a memorable four seasons at Miami

<p>Maggie McCrary hasn&#x27;t decided whether she&#x27;ll stay for a fifth year next season.</p>

Maggie McCrary hasn't decided whether she'll stay for a fifth year next season.

Volleyball season at Miami University is almost at its close, with the RedHawks holding a 5-20 record overall, and a 1-12 mark in conference play. The team’s final home match will be against the University of Akron on Nov. 11. Though the season had its ups and downs, the RedHawks were anchored by the play of senior Maggie McCrary.

McCrary’s volleyball career began in middle school, thanks to a little push from her dad. 

“One day when we were driving, we saw people playing beach volleyball, and my dad was like, ‘One day I want you to try volleyball,’” McCrary said. “And I was like, ‘Sure.’”

McCrary continued playing volleyball throughout high school, and because of her height, she was thrown into the middle position. McCrary is listed at 6-foot-1.

“My dad is 6-foot-8, my mom is 5-foot-10, so growing up I was always a tall kid,” McCrary said.

Before arriving in Oxford, McCrary attended high school at Traverse City Central in Michigan. While there, she was a four-year letterwinner and also became the school’s single-season and career leader in kills. In 2019, she was named Honorable Mention All-State and All-Region, capping off her high school career.

McCrary came to Miami in 2020 as a psychology major, right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a first-year student, confidence was an issue for her.

“I think my freshman year and … going into my sophomore year, I wasn’t really confident in myself,” McCrary said. “I felt like I was behind or that I wasn’t supposed to be here for awhile, just because it takes a while to get used to the system and playing at that level.”

Miami volleyball assistant coach Tania Schatow has worked with McCrary from the beginning and has seen her vast improvement firsthand.

“She has become a much better attacker … and she really has turned into a great swing blocker,” Schatow said. “She is one of the leading blockers on our team, so I think her all-around game has truly improved.”

McCrary played in all 22 matches in 2022, starting in 15. In those 22 matches, she was tied for the team lead in blocks with 52 and had the team’s most block-assists with 46.

Her first year also holds her favorite memory as a RedHawk. 

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In 2020, Miami wasn’t supposed to make the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament. Going into the last weekend of the season with two matches left, both against Central Michigan University, the RedHawks were out of the tournament picture.

In both of those matches, Miami went down two games to none. In both matches, the team swept the final three games to take the victory. 

Those two wins vaulted Miami one game ahead of Kent State University for the final spot in the four-team MAC tournament. Miami would get knocked out of the tournament quickly, but the improbable comebacks have stuck with McCrary.

“That was a really cool, awesome moment when we found out,” McCrary said. “I think another team had to lose for us to get in, and they ended up losing, so we made it in.”

McCrary’s sophomore season was when she really started to feel confident and comfortable with her playing abilities.

“I started to feel like I should be there, and that has helped me a lot in my play ever since,” McCary said. 

In 2021, McCrary played in 27 matches, starting in 23 of them, and ranked sixth in hitting percentage at .338 for conference matches in the MAC. 

The next season, she played in 29 matches, making 24 starts as a junior. Off the court, McCrary was Academic All-MAC.

This season, McCrary is top-five on Miami’s team in blocks and kills. 

“She works hard in the weight room, she’s able to speak up, she is a calming voice, she is not someone who gets overly emotional or angry,” Schatow said. “She is someone who is calm, but everyone in the locker room really respects her. She really has become a major role model for all the younger girls on the team.”

Following this season, McCrary is keeping her options open for the future.

“I am a psychology major with a minor in criminology and family relations, so I am kind of interested in doing something in criminal psychology,” McCrary said. “But I also have a fifth year of eligibility, so I could stay and get my graduate degree after graduation.”

It has been a memorable four years for McCrary playing volleyball at Miami, and her presence on the court and also in the locker room have had a major impact on the program.