When looking back on her life, Maggie McCloskey will be the first to tell you it wouldn’t be surprising if she was actually born in a gym instead of a hospital.
“I know that’s where I grew up,” McCloskey laughed. “Gyms are my second home. I’ve definitely been in them a lot over the years.”
Over the past four years, the senior has spent more than her fair share of time in the Riverside Brookfield gym. From practice and shooting by herself to coming up with big plays against opposing teams, McCloskey has left her mark on the Bulldogs’ program in more ways than one. This season alone she has already set school scoring records with most points in a game (44), most field goals in a game (17) and most points in a career (over 1,500).
“Anytime I take the floor, I try to be the best player,” said McCloskey, who will attend Loyola in the fall. “I try to make my parents proud of me, and I think they are. It’s been a great time, and the years have really flown by.”
The 5-5 guard, who also stars in the classroom with a 3.94 grade-point average and scored a 26 on the ACT, has the Bulldogs on pace to win their fourth consecutive Suburban Prairie (East) Conference crown.
After posting a 27-4 record a year ago, which included their first regional title in 22 years, many believed this team was going to be in the rebuilding stages this season.
But with McCloskey, who led RB to 54 wins over the past three years, cousin Katelyn McCloskey and Erin Pfieffer leading the way, those doubters have become believers.
“I hope when I’m done that I can look back and realize I’ve left a mark on this program,” McCloskey said. “I love the game and this school.
“It would be great if the girls that play for this program in the future play the game with the same love that I have for it. But I have to admit, it would be even greater if I can finish my career making it to at least the sectional final game.”
Since the day she was born, the 18-year-old has been surrounded by basketball. Her father, Tom, is the boys varsity coach at the school, while her older brother, Dan, also played basketball his entire life.
“It’s awesome that my dad knows so much about the game,” McCloskey said. “I can’t even explain how much he has helped me over the years. He’s always trying to make me a better player, and it really is great to have someone like that around you all the time.”
That extra help is a big reason why McCloskey owns countless school records. She also led her team to a resounding 95-51 win over Ridgewood this season by scoring 25 points, including five three-pointers.
McCloskey broke her own single game three-point record by hitting 10 in a 49-46 victory over Lemont earlier in the season.
From points scored to career three pointers, the only thing left for her to accomplish individually would be if the school retires her number.
“I have never really thought about that, but I would be honored,” McCloskey said. “I’ve never worried about individual awards, because those will come if the team wins.”
One thing McCloskey learned from her dad is to use the three-pointer to her advantage, which there is little doubt she has. Entering this season, the guard knocked down 259 treys and is considered by many to be one of the best three-point shooters in the state.
“As a smaller player, I have to make the three-pointer an advantage for me,”
McCloskey said. “I’ve been able to do that, and it’s helped our team. I work on my shooting everyday, and it’s nice to see that hard work really does pay off.”
McCloskey is the first to admit, however, that it does bother her when people think the Bulldogs play an easy schedule.
“It would be great if we could play and beat everyone,” McCloskey said. “But we have had some big wins the past couple of years, like Mother McAuley and others.
“We’ve won our conference the past couple of years, and won a regional title last year. So we’ve improving every year.”
After looking at UIC and the University of Denver, McCloskey picked Loyola to continue her career.
“When I took a visit, I just felt comfortable there,” McCloskey said. “I love the city, and I think Loyola has an up-and-coming program.”
One of the key factors in her decision process was coach Shannon Reidy, who helped turn the Marian Catholic program into a Class AA State contender before accepting her new position a year ago.
“I like her a lot,” McCloskey said. “I know what she did at Marian, and I actually used to go watch her teams play at times. She’s a great coach, and I can’t wait to play for her.”
As is the case with a number of players, McCloskey knows she will bring some superstitions with her to the next level.
“I have new superstitions every year,” said McCloskey, who is a four-year starter. “This year, I eat the same turkey sandwich from our lunchroom on game days.
“I listen to the same music in the same order before every game, and wear the same socks. Every year, I come up with my superstitions for the season. I’ll have some next year, too.”
There is one person McCloskey can’t say enough about, and that’s her grandfather”Robert Burke.
“My grandpa has been huge,” McCloskey said. “It’s like every summer, he’s driving me to AAU games (for the Illinois Hustle) or flying with me to a tournament. His support has been great.
“I really owe a lot of my scholarship to him. I can’t thank him enough.”
While she is trying not to think about it, McCloskey realizes the end of her high school career is right around the corner.
“It’s been an unbelievable run,” McCloskey said. “These four years have flown by and I’m going to be a little sad when it’s all over.
“I know I still have my college career left, and I want to be a coach someday, too. But I’m going to miss playing in the big games here in front of my family and friends.
“It’s weird to think about at times, because it really feels like it was just yesterday when I was a freshman and we went 25-2. I know Feb. 10 is my last regular-season home game, but we’re hosting some State tournament games. So I’ll have at least one more chance to play at home.”