Story by Josh Heller
Mechanicville High School graduate Abby Maiello has really kicked things off for her college career. Maiello has been playing for the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure this year, and hopes to excel there, both academically and athletically.
Maiello, a 19-year-old sophomore at St. Bonaventure’s University and a former Red Raider, has moved on to big dreams at college. There, Maiello plays soccer for the Bonnies, and played very well this past season. At one point last year, the Bonnies even traveled to Europe to visit France and play F.C. Barcelona’s women’s team in Spain, as well.
The Mechanicville Mile caught up with Maiello to ask her about that experience and the transition from high school to college sports.
MM: Now if I’m not mistaken, your team took a trip to Spain to practice with F.C. Barcelona’s women’s team? What was that experience like?
AM: While we were in Europe we actually visited Spain and France. Our meeting with F.C. Barcelona was a friendly international match, not just a training session. We played at their training facility. That was an amazing experience. It was like all my childhood dreams came true. To play on the same field as some of the greatest futbol players ever. The grounds were beautiful. The competition was tough too. It’s always harder playing against a team that speaks a different language because you can’t read their game as well. After the game though, it was fun to meet some of the girls and hear some of their stories. This was definitely one of the most unforgettable moments of my life.
MM: Growing up in the small town of Mechanicville, who would you say was your biggest influence growing up?
AM: My biggest influence growing up would have to be my parents. They were the people who first got me into sports, they drove me to games and practices, and they always encouraged me to do my best.
MM: What was the most valuable thing that you learned from high school sports?
AM: High school sports taught me some valuable lessons. I think the first would be to have fun. It reminded me, on the tougher days, that I started playing soccer and grew to love soccer because it was fun. It was something I enjoyed doing. I also learned the value of being a good teammate. I have made some lifelong friendships on the soccer field which were brought on by respecting my teammates. Finally, high school sports helped me to learn what it meant to play with heart and for something, there were so many people standing behind us, as players, and it was a great feeling.
MM: What were some of the major differences between high school and college sports?
AM: College sports are a lot more competitive. In high school you could face a team with a couple good players. College teams you have 11 great players on the field with 11 more waiting on the bench. I also would say college sports are a lot more demanding. The expectations of players are much higher. It takes a lot more time management. Our games are played on Fridays and Sundays, this sometimes has us missing two days of school. We must be on top of our school work to make sure we keep our grades up.
MM: If there was one thing you could say to an up-and-coming Red Raider athlete who dreams of playing at the college level, what would it be?
AM: I would tell them that it’s going to take work, a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s going to take days when you want to throw in the towel but you have to get past those days because in the end you will never regret it. I think a lot of people doubt their ability but if you’re willing to work at it and practice then there’s nothing stopping you. My final advice would be to be a coachable person, be humble, and never stop chasing your dreams.
Josh Heller is a senior at Mechanicville High School and a member of the Mechanicville Mile’s Raider Reporter program.