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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Annual Alumnae Day brings former and current players together

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Marquette women’s basketball breaks down at half-court after its win over Loyola Chicago Dec. 9.

Marquette women’s basketball had its inaugural season in 1975. Now, 48 years later, the program has gone through six different head coaches and six conference changes.

Every era of the program acts as a branch to a large, connected family tree, and the roots run deep.

Former Marquette women’s basketball player, Patrice Baker, said one constant from her time playing for Tat Shiely, the program’s first head coach, to the program now being led by Megan Duffy has been the emphasis and importance made on legacy.

“Because of Marquette women’s basketball, I’m friends with people that didn’t even play in my era,” Baker said. “We’re close, we talk and it’s beautiful the interconnectedness that Marquette women’s basketball has given us.”

Baker and past players will have the opportunity to connect once again this upcoming Saturday inside the brick walls and friendly confines of the Al McGuire Center when the program hosts its annual Alumnae Day when it takes on St. John’s.

The day will consist of a pregame brunch reception in the Athletic and Human Performance Research Center prior to tip-off against the Johnnies with an in-game recognition ceremony for all former players.

“Coach Duffy has really made us (alumnae) feel like we’re part of the current team’s success,” Baker said. “She really makes a big effort to get people to come back and includes us, making us feel like we’re still part of the success. When they win and when they do well, we’re part of the journey too.”

Following the afternoon contest, current players and past players will have the chance to mingle and share glory day stories.

“The best part that both the alums and the players really enjoy is our little meet and greet after the game,” Veronica Mullen, Marquette women’s basketball assistant athletic director, said.

Alumnae and the current team will have the opportunity to actively engage with one another through a Q&A series.

Mullen said the group will likely celebrate more than anything, considering Marquette is coming off its first-ever win over UConn Feb. 8.

“Everybody who’s played here at Marquette has been knocking down the door to UConn, so we have lots to talk about with the alums, and I know they’re going to be so excited to be back and talk to the girls about that success,” Mullen said.

Baker said the Golden Eagles win over the Huskies is a perfect example of how far the program has come.

“I was at the game where they beat UConn. We still keep in touch, we have a big chain text message and people were sending pictures of the game,” Baker said. “The program has come a really long way and it’s unbelievable just in terms of how it was when I was in school. They’ve come a long way with resources, but the thing that’s still the same is the opportunity for a great education and a Marquette experience.”

Despite the immense program growth, senior forward Chloe Marotta said the most valuable resource, on and off the court, is the alumnae.

“It’s really important for a program to have a strong alumnae connection. It’s really good for the current players to see where the alumna are now and how they can help us and connect us to different people that they know,” Marotta said. “It’s interesting to hear about their jobs because as a student connecting with them and learning what it took to get to where they are is incredible. Patty Baker is a lawyer and that’s something interesting to me.”

Baker graduated from Marquette Law School in 1991. The Milwaukee County Judicial Court Commissioner in the Probate Division said her experience as a basketball player aided her in the world off the court.

“Marquette women’s basketball has given us really good people and there’s some rockstars out there, such as Kristen Maskala, who played after me and is an orthopedic surgeon. If you look at the statistics for how many people are orthopedic surgeons that are women, the percentage is still very low,” Baker said. “She’s unbelievable and there are tons of others that are real rockstars, but beyond that though, they’re even better people.”

Even when days at the Al come to a close, the legacy remains.

Marotta said the culture is what makes Marquette unique.

Mullen, having worked in various collegiate programs, one of which includes nine seasons with St. John’s as well as joining Duffy at the University of Miami-Ohio, said Marquette’s culture is like no other.

“Marquette is very much well known in the Big East for its culture and the women that come through this program are great representations both on and off the court,” Mullen said. “Our team always talks about women’s empowerment, so bringing back these alums is like ‘Look at the doors that that they’re knocking down.’ They give our ladies just so much confidence to go on and keep that legacy moving forward.”

With the chance to further connect and grow as one large team of the past and present, the Marquette women’s basketball team can reflect on its history and look forward to the future.

“The ball is going to stop bouncing at some point, but there’s so many great things that the sport teaches you and they’re transferable skills into the real world,” Mullen said.

This story was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @avamaresMU. 

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