Maggie Hanusek has always loved to snowboard. She got it from her parents, two transplants from New Jersey who grew up skiing and taught Maggie and her younger sister on trips to Vail, Colorado, and Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
So when the Lambert rising senior soccer player verbally committed to Appalachian State this past Friday, she couldn’t help but think of all the snowboarding opportunities in the Blue Ridge Mountains before her.
“I love to snowboard, so that’s something I actually get to do now,” Hanusek said. “It’s in my backyard when I go up there.”
Hanusek said she plans to sign in February 2016, and if she does she’d join a Mountaineers program that went 8-11 overall and 5-4 in the Sun Belt Conference this past season, the fourth under head coach Sarah Strickland.
Appalachian State would get an experienced forward in Hanusek, who was an instrumental piece in the Lady Longhorns going 20-3, winning the Region 6-AAAAAA championship and reaching the finals of the state playoffs for the first time in school history.
It was during Lambert’s historic run that Appalachian State discovered Hanusek. Lambert was playing Collins Hill in the state quarterfinals, and Strickland was in town already. Hanusek’s club coach, Domenic Martelli (now Pinecrest Academy’s director of soccer), a good friend of Strickland’s, encouraged the Appalachian State coach to go see his Atlanta Fire United team’s only uncommitted player.
Hanusek made a good impression; she scored the only goal in Lambert’s 1-0 victory.
Strickland called Martelli the next day and asked him to have Hanusek call her. Hanusek called, and she said Strickland expressed interest but wanted to see her play more. So Hanusek went to a camp at Appalachian State in mid-July, and the Mountaineers saw everything they needed to see. They offered. A few weeks later, Hanusek committed.
She said she found in Appalachian State everything she wanted: good teammates, good coaches and a large school with a laid back environment.
“It’s very different from Atlanta, which I like,” Hanusek said. “The vibe is very different there.”
Hanusek’s commitment brought to a close a recruiting journey that felt prolonged juxtaposed against those of her club teammates, many of whom followed the trend of many top high school female athletes who commit to college as freshmen or sophomores. She watched teammate and teammate decide their future, wondering more and more each time when she would decide her own.
“Maybe I just took a longer path than other people,” Hanusek said. “It was going to come. I just had to keep telling myself, ‘You deserve this. It will be your day one day.’ That’s just how I looked at it.”