Jun 24 2023

The Big Interview: Suzanne Maguire

Suzanne Maguire is the current head coach of Liffey Celtics Intermediate team which impressively completed the quintuple during the 2022/23 season - Dublin D1 League Winners, Dublin D1 Cup Winners, Dublin D1 Top 4 Winners, NICC National Cup Winners and NICC National League Winners. She is also coach of Basketball Ireland's U14 East Academy team. We caught up with her as part of #LetsGetVisible2023.

Maguire had an illustrious playing career with Ireland and was part of the Irish 3x3 team which finished 8th at the 2015 Baku European Games, while domestically she played for Liffey Celtics and DCU Mercy. She was inducted into the Fordham Hall of Fame in 2017, her achievements with the school include being fourth place on Fordham’s all-time scoring list with 1,475 career points while her 13.3 ppg scoring average is fifth best in school history. She is also fifth on Fordham’s all-time rebounding list with 737 and third on Fordham’s all-time three-point field goals made list with 200. 

Q: Suzanne, you've had quite the basketball journey, who was the inspiration when you were growing up to get into the sport in the first place?

“My brothers! I grew up in a house with three older brothers and they were either active in or interested in a myriad of different sports, one of those being basketball. My dad got us a basketball hoop for outside our house, and many a long evening/night spent playing (and getting beaten) on repeat. But a great love for the game grew from there and has remained!”

Q: Looking back, what have been career highlights as a player?

““Firsts” always feature in the highlight reels- first time getting selected to a regional team, national team, school title, first Cup and National Title, Fordham, Ireland, Baku… I was fortunate to play competitively for many years, playing with and against the very best the game has produced domestically. I reflect now in appreciation for it all, as it all played a part in my development and my story.”

Q: It must have been wonderful to be inducted to the Fordham Hall of Fame, what did that mean to you?

“It was a great honour! Fordham was such an incredible time in my life, and the induction validated the contribution I made during those four years. I was blessed that my family and roommates and teammates and coaches were all present that night, to celebrate with me while allowing us all to relive (briefly) those great days of our youth.” 

Q: How important was Fordham in your overall career, in establishing you as a player and also accumulating knowledge that you now use as a coach? 

“As a player- incredibly important. The time you get on court, the access to coaches and players and facilities is constant, so it’s hard not to immerse yourself and develop your game. As a coach - I think about how style, communication and relationship were used, these elements of the coaching toolkit that enables you to get the best from your players. Different impact, but prominent nonetheless.”

Suzanne Maguire in action for Ireland at the 2015 Baku European Games

Q: You played for the Irish 3x3 team which performed brilliantly in the 2015 Baku European Games, describe that experience?

Baku was unbelievable! The whole journey, starting with a 3x3 Tournament in the Arena, through the qualifying campaigns, to picking up your “Team Ireland” kit, grateful that in the twilight of my playing career I was part of the whole thing! It was also during that period where Ireland for a stretch of about seven years did not participate in senior international competitions, so it was thrilling to be representing Ireland again and bringing a level visibility back on us as a playing nation.”

Q: You've turned your hand to coaching since finishing up as a player, was that always the plan in your mind, or was it something you fell into?

“I always wanted to coach and coached at various underage levels while playing at both DCU Mercy and Liffey Celtics. I didn’t always know what I was doing, a great myth that a good player will make a good coach - I made tons of mistakes (still do!), but learned a ton (still am!), and over time have developed a style that I am comfortable with and one that tries to balance all of the forces at play as a coach.” 

Q: What are the coaching goals you've set for yourself?

To win five competitions in a single season… oh wait! Just kidding - but last season was extraordinary and will feature as one of my most memorable experiences in basketball, ever! But in terms of goals - continue to get better; face into the areas I know I struggle with and get better; put myself in positions to coach at different levels, and get better. For me it’s about evolving, getting better and enjoying the time.” 

 Suzanne Maguire with Karen O'Shea and Alannah Mullins after winning the Women's National Intermediate League Final against Claregalway in April 2023

Q: It's Let's Get Visible this week, what's been your experience of basketball and its inclusive nature?

“I perhaps have taken it for granted, and never considered until recent times what was just my experience from an early age - but being around basketball was where I felt most like myself, where I acted most like who I was, where I not only felt like I belonged, but felt included as a person. I always wax lyrical about basketball - as a game, as a teacher, for its impact on my life from many vantage points, but the inclusiveness of the sport is the essence of it all.”

Q: What would you say to a member of the LGBTQ+ community who may be thinking of taking up the sport?

“Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community should never be a barrier for doing anything! But in terms of doing something that is good for you, can fuel as much of a competitive fire as you want, where you will feel supported, not judged and meet a bunch of like-minded people - basketball is for you! There are so many ways to get involved; playing and coaching being my main involvement and what I can speak most to, but there are plenty of other options in terms of participation, all operating with high levels of respect and good craic!” 

Q: How important are weeks like this, Let's Get Visible, to highlight inclusion and showcase role models in sport?

“Sport should be at the center of the national debate on many things and this week where we celebrate our inclusion and support for the LGBTQ+ community, we reinforce this point, and the importance sport can play in everyone’s lives. We saw the power and impact of the 20x20 campaign, and this week I am thrilled that Basketball Ireland along with a host of other national bodies are promoting their sport as a place for all, that welcomes and includes all. There is a lot of work still to do to make weeks like this the norm, but what we will see are the volumes of incredible LGBTQ+ members tell their stories of achievement, and what we won’t necessarily see is how those stories will inspire confidence and belief and support for those not so visible, yet!”