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An American in Cavan: How Alarie Mayze found her way from the NCAA to Ireland

Griffith College came away from their Varsity Cup final against UCC with a 95-62 win on March 15th. This capped off an inaugural season to be proud of for the team, as they are the college’s first ever women’s basketball team. One of the standout performers in the game was Alarie Mayze who scored 21 points in an impressive outing.

While attending Griffith for her master’s studies, Mayze has been balancing her playing duties between the college team and Oblate Dynamos in Inchicore, who just finished their second season in the National League.

Despite being knocked out early on, she is still proud of the Dynamos’ performances throughout the season. Being the only American on the team and also the most experienced, she knew she had an important role to play.

“It was really tough for me because I knew I was coming on the team to help them be successful and build their confidence. We had a good team, it’s just we had trouble trying to find a way to execute”.

The journey Mayze took to reach the National League was a long one. Growing up in Arlington, Texas, her goal was always to play professional basketball. She didn’t have to search far for inspiration as her mother played basketball for Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

Starting at five years old, Mayze began playing in the AAU youth league with the boys before she joined the girls league at age 7. Fast forward to high school, and in her senior year she won a district championship at Juan Seguin.

“I knew right there in that moment I want
to be a pro. I know what it takes.”

– Alarie Mayze

College came calling, and Mayze got a full scholarship to Utah State in 2015 where she could play Division 1 basketball in the NCAA, the most elite league in the country for college players. However, Mayze felt something wasn’t right and decided to take the road less travelled.

“Something told me I wasn’t ready, not to be at that Division 1 school, but something told me I didn’t need to be there, so I went back home for that fall semester. NCAA rules is that if you leave a Division 1 school you can’t go straight back. You have to go to a junior college for two years. So that’s when I went to New Mexico Junior College.”

After a year and a half at New Mexico, calls started to come in from Division 1 colleges, and University of Southern Mississippi was Mayze’s next destination. It was here she was re-introduced to the stringent demands of Division 1 basketball when her coach told her she wasn’t allowed to shoot the ball anymore. She had to play defence.

“I let [my coach] get into my head the first couple of years. Going from junior year into my senior year I started going to the gym every day. I was shooting 300 to 500 shots every day. It wasn’t to prove her wrong but to prove to myself that I could be the best I can be”.

At the end of her senior year, Mayze was the third ranked three-point shooter in her conference. Her coach continued to show tough love to the team.

“She told our senior class that if you’re not willing to take the next step of going pro then reality is going to hit you”.

And reality hit hard. Mayze graduated in the middle of the Covid pandemic and was forced to move home to Arlington. An opportunity arose to make a highlight tape at a pro-day try-out not long after, but unfortunately, she suffered a calf injury.

Looking back now, this was the make-or-break moment for Mayze.

During 2021, Mayze worked the night shift at her local Walmart so that she could spend her days training. In her words, her schedule was ‘Eat. Sleep. Basketball’. Another pro-day try-out arose and this time she managed to catch the eye of an agent who brought up the possibility of studying a master’s in Ireland while playing professionally.

Photo by Alarie Mayze of The Circular.

Playing for DCU Mercy in her first season, Mayze averaged 20 points per game and was named MVP in the cup final against UL after scoring 32 points.

In her second year, she took a break from studying and focussed on playing professionally. This was when a phone call from DCU coach Mark Ingle brought her to Cavan, where she took part in a coaching camp.

It was in Cavan where Mayze was approached by Graham Tolan, coach of the newly promoted East Cavan Eagles, to join the team.

An impressive debut season followed for the Eagles, where they reached the playoffs after finishing top of the league, only to be toppled by Portlaoise.

“I was the mom of the team. I was honoured to be part of their first time being in the National League”.

While playing in Cavan, Mayze also coached in the local primary schools. This was work she found rewarding as she was able to help motivate young girls to participate in sports.

“It’s awesome how you can change a kid’s life. That’s what I enjoyed most. For women in sports, confidence is key”.

After finishing in Cavan in 2023, Mayze spent some time at home in Texas waiting for an offer. She decided to reach out to Toland, who then got in contact with Oblate Dynamos. After finishing her season with the Dynamos, Mayze was then able to turn her focus towards the Varsity Final against UCC where she was able to help her team to their first ever trophy.

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