Maggie Denys Opens Up About First Year Challenges, And Overcoming

Maggie Denys basketball

Maggie Denys with the University of Windsor Lancers Women’s basketball team – Photo by Kevin Jarrold

Maggie Denys didn’t want to sugar coat things. After completing her first season of OUA basketball with the University of Windsor Lancers, Denys knew she could say the typical things athletes say about her experience, but it wouldn’t be the truth. It wouldn’t be Maggie Denys’ story.

“In all honesty, it was tough,” said Denys about her first season with the Windsor Lancers. “Leaving a school and a program I was comfortable at and walking into unknown territory was intimidating. Meeting new people and opening up, truthfully, was very hard.

Coming from a tight knit sport school setting at Southwest Academy in London, the Chatham product was struggling with the change to her schedule, her surroundings, and the social setting.

“As an example, my roommate and I barely spoke to one another for the first month and a half, which to me now is strange considering we are very close. There were many nights where I was incredibly emotional and would call my friend from home for hours because I could not calm myself down.”

Denys, who put in a strong season on the court averaging 5-points per game in her first season, along with 2.6 rebounds per game, including opening her season with 14- and 15-point efforts was feeling stress from all angles, including on the court.

“The stress of performing at a much higher level both on and off the court gave me anxiety, and the change of my known schedule which I was used to from the past three years was gone.”

Denys let those feelings persist, and bottled them up, as many teens and young adults do, until she couldn’t any more.

“I kept quiet about what was consistently occurring in my head from those around me until one day I had a meltdown before practice and my teammate came to the residence and helped me through it. I think the biggest takeaway that my coaches and teammates taught me this year is that to perform at this level, I needed to
take care of myself first.”

Self care is a vital part for mental and physical health for all people, especially elite level athletes.

“To sort through what was causing me this level of anxiety and to sort through how I was feeling. To sort myself out, I needed to seek counselling. This was something encouraged by my coaches, and I thank them greatly for it. After I initiated a seek for change, I saw myself evolve and become willing to open up to others. The unexpected from this was my friendship with my roommate and those outside of basketball I had met. Knowing I had a balance of both professional life and personal social life had brought me some type of peace.”

Through all of that, through the struggle and the healing, Denys still looks back at her season and year as a success.

“Although my first year attending the University of Windsor was very tough, it ended on an extremely high note and I am very thankful for everyone who was a part of it because they made the experience worth it.”

With a difficult season behind, overcoming a multitude of challenges, Denys is now shifting her focuses toward next season, and a bigger role with the Lancers.

“Our 5th-year guard is graduating, so my role for this upcoming season with the Lancers is changing. To perform, I need to continue to take care of myself. By doing this, it opens several doors to get better. My mentality is slowly changing and my desire to get better is growing. To succeed this upcoming year, I need to increase my stamina and have a more consistent shot.”

With an offseason of physical and mental preparation, Denys will undoubtedly have a better season, in every way, ahead.

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