BEEDIE LUMINARIES — Maggie Pugosa is many things: she’s a student at the University of British Columbia, an earlybird, a pasta-lover, a Beedie Luminary from Cohort 2022, and an athlete.
Most recently in July of 2023, Maggie visited Liberec, Czech Republic, for the World Junior Ball Hockey Championship where Team Canada brought home gold. Just days later, Maggie was swiftly off to Newfoundland to complete nationally for team BC.
It’s no doubt that Maggie is often described as an athlete by herself, her close peers, and even those who meet her briefly. In this article below, we dive into how athletics has shaped who Maggie is, and the invaluable life lessons she has gained through sports. Read below to learn more.
Hey Maggie, let’s start with the basics: what does being an athlete mean to you?
Throughout my life I have always been involved in athletics. I have been playing ice hockey for over ten years now. Over the span of this decade, I have had a wide variety of other sports too; swimming, soccer, and track but the list could go on. I loved ice hockey for two main reasons; the sport itself and the friends I have made along the way. I always looked forward to practices and games no matter the time of the day because I knew I would be able to play the sport I loved and be able to see some of my closest friends. Being an athlete means a lot to me; it is part of my identity.
Sports offer me a way to escape from the pressures and realities of life. When I am playing I do not have to worry or stress about other things, I just have to focus on the game. I cannot imagine who I would be if I was not playing sports.
It sounds like you’re a well-rounded athlete. How did you get into ball hockey specifically?
My journey to being on the Canada Junior Women’s Ball Hockey team is a bit of a long story. Up until my senior year I was playing ice hockey recreationally in Burnaby, that year I wanted to challenge myself and go outside of my comfort zone. Anyone that knows me will tell you I am a very competitive person both in and out of athletics. I tried out for a major midget team where I met someone who now is one of my closest friends. Lots of players did not end up making the team and we were both in that category too…oh well.
Although it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for my future ball hockey journey. She convinced me to try out for the local rep ice hockey team in Richmond; a few weeks later I ended up signing up for tryouts. After a couple of weeks the results were in and I found out my hard work paid off and I made the team! We had one of the most memorable ice hockey seasons; going undefeated in the regular season, falling short to get the silver in playoffs, and coming third in the province! The season wrapped up in March and a couple weeks later one of my teammates texted me asking if I wanted to join their ball hockey team.
This is where the journey begins…I joined the local Richmond Ball Hockey Team and a couple months later made it onto Team BC. In July of 2022 we flew out to Winnipeg, Manitoba to compete in the Junior National Ball Hockey Championship. At this tournament there were scouts for Canada’s Junior Women’s team that would compete in the World Championship the following summer. I was oblivious to the scouts during Nationals, mainly because they blended into the rest of the crowd very well.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and has a purpose. I never put much thought into the opportunities ball hockey would give me but a few months later that year I found I had been selected to go to Europe and play ball hockey for the national team!
It’s clear that sports has a lot to do with your identity. Where do you think you would be without it? More importantly, who would you be?
I cannot think of what my identity would be without athletics. It is a huge part of who I am as a person. I have learned so many things from playing sports that it had a direct impact on my personality. One common trait I notice is I love working in a team setting where we collaborate to achieve a common goal. For example, in school anytime there is an option being doing an assignment individually or in a group, I always pick to work with others.
Was there ever a time where you fell out of athletics for a bit? How did that impact you?
During my first semester in my first year at UBC I took the composition of the term Student Athlete and put being a student before anything else. Now some may say it was a good thing that I was dedicating myself to my studies but looking back I had no balance in my life. My whole day revolved around school. I would go to my classes for the first half of my day, and I would spend the rest of my time completing assignments and studying. It was not until the end of the first semester that I realized that this was an unhealthy lifestyle for me. To go from being surrounded by athletics constantly to cutting it out of my life drastically had a huge impact on me; both mentally and physically.
The first couple of months of university were exhausting and I lacked the same drive and incentive I once had prior with athletics. Looking back, I am not sure why this was. Maybe it was because I did not see a goal to work towards. Like I mentioned before I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and sure enough around this time, I found out I had been selected to represent Canada in the Junior World Ball Hockey Championship. This opportunity fueled motivation to get up and be active. Soon I would fulfil the Student Athlete description and not fully devote myself to being just a student. Athletics is a big part of my identity and without it I left lost. Now that it was back in my life I began to feel like myself again.
Now that you know all of this about yourself, what are some takeaways?
Yes, I absolutely think that it’s possible to pursue your passions in another field while excelling academically. Although it will be challenging at times, the rewards and personal growth that come with it are immeasurable. Some advice I would give to achieve the “best of both worlds” include:
- Athletics helps me understand the power of a team and collaboration.
A team is stronger than an individual. Becoming a world champion was not a solo effort. Be disciplined and do not try to do everything yourself to be a hero, that is not what a team is about. My Canada coach told us before our gold medal game against Slovakia to play for the logo on the front and not the name on the back.
- I am better at understanding and accepting change. This is a powerful tool I use with my friends, family, and life at school.
My team Canada coach talked to us about how the mental part of the sport is just as important as the other aspects. He regularly discussed focusing on the next shift. Do not waste all your time thinking of things in the past that you now cannot change but take one or two minutes to think about what you can control. Control the controllable.
- It is through sports that I’ve been able to foster better connections, and for that, I am full of gratitude.
This amazing experience gave me the chance to meet new lifelong friends across Canada. Even though the tournament was a couple months ago now, our team group chat is constantly active as we text each other daily. I would like to thank my parents, friends, teammates, mentor, and trainers who supported me throughout this journey. But I would like to recognize the Beedie Luminary team for without this this opportunity would not have been made possible.
- Community is wherever you choose to build it, and it all starts with giving back.
I work at a local ice rink in New Westminster, Moody Park Arena. I am a part time worker who teaches skating and hockey lessons to young kids. In the lobby there is a poster that was recently put up that highlights my success at the Ball Hockey World Championship. I had several students ask me about the trophy that I was seen holding in the photo. The timing worked out perfectly to be able to bring in the trophy to show them! I was able to bring it in on our last day of lessons. I want to give back to the community when I can and this was a chance for me to inspire them to dream for something big.
Any other pieces of advice? What might you say to someone who’s in the same spot as you a couple of years ago?
I will keep this short and simple. Do not give up on something you love. At the time it may be easier to quit than to keep going, but by continuing soon more doors will open in the future. Do not be scared. Try new things, you will never know what will come out of them if you do not try. Everything happens for a reason; you just have to trust the process.
Thanks Maggie! It was so great catching up. Read more about Luminaries like Maggie here!Back To Top