Nemo Vista’s Mahan reflects on success

by Mark Oliver

From a young age, Nemo Vista senior guard Maggie Mahan was destined for success on the basketball court.

“I have been playing basketball ever since I could remember,” Mahan said. “In fact, my first word was ‘ball.’ Before I could even walk, I was playing catch with my dad while I was in a walker. I was the type of girl who would scrape a square off the court when it snowed so that I could work on my dribbling and shooting. I’ve always been very self-driven and self-motivated ever since I was little because I wanted to win and be the best I could be at absolutely everything.”

Mahan was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 34 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The junior was nominated by her head coach, Kyle Payne. The team is sponsored by First Service Bank and First Security Bank.

“Maggie’s best qualities on the court are her hard work, her ability to attack the basket and her defensive disruption,” Payne wrote in his nomination. “She is also a gym rat who lives to be in the gym and is encouraging to younger players trying to learn the system. Off the court, she is a straight-A student and a role model for the younger students.”

Throughout her high school career, Mahan has grown accustomed to winning. In addition to her three consecutive state titles with Lady Red Hawks basketball, the senior has also added titles with Nemo Vista’s softball and track and field programs. Though she’s accumulated many rings, Mahan says she’ll always cherish her first the most.

“Winning the basketball state championship my freshman year was like a Cinderella story,” Mahan said. “Our team had no seniors — just freshmen, sophomores and one junior. That year, one of our best player’s boyfriend passed away during the district tournament, and it was a tragedy that greatly affected us. In the district finals, against a big rival, the gym was packed. Tragedy brought us all closer together. When we won, the entire student section rushed the floor. It was a feeling like no other and one that can never be recreated.”

Despite the school’s tremendous accomplishments over the years, Mahan is committed to earning more hardcourt hardware in 2017.

“A four-peat is definitely on the agenda for us,” Mahan said. “We want to take it again this year, but so does everyone else. My goal this year is to stay focused and build relationships with the younger players on the team. I want to win as much as I can, because I love to win. Therefore, I need to work hard to be as good as I can possibly be.”

“I expect Maggie to be one of our standout leaders on the floor this year,” Payne wrote. “She has started for us since the ninth grade, so I am hoping that her experience and leadership can help keep us on track to make another run into the state tournament.”

Off the court, the senior volunteers her time to work peewee basketball games and gives back to the 501 through the Harvest of Hope food drive. In the classroom, Mahan is a member of FCA, FBLA, FCCLA, Beta Club, Quiz Bowl, Environmental Club and Gifted and Talented and is projected to become Nemo Vista’s valedictorian.

“School is very important to me,” Mahan said. “It always comes first before athletics. I’ve always wanted to do bigger things with my life, and I’ve always wanted to try to go to college for free. My future is very important to me.”

In November, Mahan signed to play basketball with Arkansas State University.

“Arkansas State was the right pick for me because it allows me to spread my wings, but also allows my family, friends and fans to come see me play,” Mahan said. “Although it was a tough decision, signing with them was a triumphant moment for me. When you put in so much hard work your entire life and watch it pay off in front of you, it’s a very cool and humbling experience.”

Eyeing her future with ambition and excitement, Mahan says she won’t forget the life lessons she has learned through her remarkable athletic career at Nemo Vista.

“Basketball has taught me more than just X’s and O’s,” Mahan said. “It has taught me how to tolerate, how to strategize and how to build relationships. It’s a part of who I am. I really love the game, and I look forward to my future. I’m living in the moment. I’m ready to win, and I’m ready to go.”

Nemo Vista plays host to Conway Christian on Friday.