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Maqueia provides much-needed height, culture to women’s basketball roster

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Maqueia provides much-needed height, culture to women’s basketball roster

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Marquette women’s basketball newcomer Amanda Maqueia didn’t know how to speak English two years ago.

“People would talk to me and I would just smile at them and pretend (I knew) what they were saying,” Maqueia said. “It was really hard, but I knew I had to learn English because I had to get through college. I had to understand what my teammates and coaches are saying.”

The 6-foot-4 junior is a transfer from New Mexico Junior College, but was born and raised in Presidente Prudente, Brazil.

“I forget Portuguese sometimes because I think in English all the time,” Maqueia said. “Sometimes I do talk to (my family) in English, say a couple words. My mom just looks at me, ‘I don’t speak English, Amanda.’”

The women’s basketball center graduated from NMJC with an associate of arts degree in gender studies. Last season for the Thunderbirds, Maqueia started in 14 out of 35 games she played and averaged 4.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Head coach Carolyn Kieger first saw Maqueia play in March when Kieger went to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Basketball Championship. Kieger needed another center after Tori McCoy was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease.

“(Her recruitment) happened kind of late because of the Tori McCoy situation,” Kieger said. “We needed a big late (in the recruiting season), so we saw her in a junior college game and got her in the recruiting process.”

Although it was a relatively quick process, Maqueia said after her official visit she knew that Marquette was the place for her.

“When I first came here on my visit, I knew Marquette was the place I wanted to go,” Maqueia said. “I could tell they’re family, they’re caring (and) they’re loving people.”

The language barrier is not the only cultural hurdle Maqueia had to overcome. Her family still lives in Brazil, so she only can see her family once a year.

“It’s really hard because I have four younger siblings and my family works,” Maqueia said. “They never see me playing here, but they always watch me play. Every single game. They don’t miss even a single game.”

One of those siblings, her 15-year-old brother, plays basketball and wants to be just like her. She said she wants to be a role model for him, like Miqueia’s mother was for her.

“He saw me playing, and he wanted to play,” Maqueia said. “He saw me traveling the world, and he said he wanted to do the same thing. He said he wanted to follow my steps. To look at him and realize that he has me as a positive role model is just awesome.”

When Maqueia transferred to Marquette, she got two more tattoos. Now she has a total of 21.

“I stopped at 21 because … my shirt’s number is 21,” Maqueia said. “They’re all random with different meanings. Every time in my life when something happens, people sometimes write in their journals. I use my body as my journal.”

Some of her tattoos include a rose, butterflies, and birds.

Maqueia had the challenge of being the only player new to the program and state because lone freshman Chloe Marotta hails from Mequon, Wisconsin, just 30 minutes out of the city, allowing her to frequently visit the team and build friendships prior to attending the university.

Maqueia said the trip to Australia for team bonding this summer helped her create friendships with the veteran team.

“I was here for only three weeks (before Australia),” Maqueia said. “(In Australia) I got to know the girls a little better, got to play with them (and) they got to know my game a little more to see what I could help them with.”

Kieger said Maqueia’s work ethic helped her fit in perfectly with the rest of the team.

“Australia helped, got her in the mix a little bit as a rookie coming in,” Kieger said. “It’s kind of hard to get into this team right now, in terms of how fast we’re moving.”

Maqueia said the seniors have been mentoring her with understanding the coaches’ jargon.

“Being from a different country, some of the terminology we use here is kind of weird. I’ll pull her to the side and say ‘Hey, look for this’ or ‘Do it like this,’” senior guard Allazia Blockton said. “I’ve never met any player that’ll catch on right away, but she’ll do it on the next possession.”

Maqueia has brought new length to Kieger’s team as the tallest available player on the roster.

“She’s our big that we’ve been needing,” senior guard Natisha Hiedeman said. “As far as just doing what we need to do, she’s there and getting it done.”

In Marquette’s loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament last season, the team’s lack of height was a disadvantage in that game. Kieger said her staff wants to be able to put Maqueia in during those situations to help turn her height into an advantage.

“She brings a presence in the paint that we haven’t had before,” Kieger said. “She’s a phenomenal passer. From a post, she can really find people whether it’s skipping out from inside, whether it’s high-low passing … that’s something that will be very unique.”

Blockton said Maqueia is one of the best passers on the team because of her height and vision of the court.

“She can see the whole floor and she knows how to pass it,” Blockton said. “Some of the passes, you’ll be like ‘How did she get that in there?’”

Maqueia said the transition from NMJC to a top 25 team has been difficult because of the level of intensity of a DI program.

“In junior college, I was the tallest girl,” Maqueia said. “I’m not going to be the tallest girl anymore. I’m not going to be the strongest one. It just comes to how hard I can battle.”

Maqueia has had to work harder than most at keeping up with the speed of her team, but both Blockton and Hiedeman said Maqueia works hard and has a “great personality.”

“Right away she was able to come in and fit it and contribute,” Blockton said. “She cracks a lot of jokes. She brings a different flavor to our team. We’re all similar, and we all have unique personalities. … Now she’s here, (and) she’s family for life.”

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