With all of the excitement from the Slam Dunk Tournament, I missed this announcement. Holy Child senior soccer, basketball and lacrosse player Maggie Welsh was named the Con Edison Scholar-Athlete of the Week on Wednesday, and my colleague Jermaine Dennis wrote a feature on her in this past Saturday’s paper. Here’s the feature:
Basketball and malaria aren’t often mentioned in the same conversation. But for Holy Child four-year varsity basketball player Maggie Welsh (pictured right), the sport she plays helps fight the deadly illness in Africa.
Since her freshman year, the Con Edison Athlete of the Week has participated in Holy Child’s yearly fundraising event to benefit Nothing But Nets, a global grassroots campaign of the United Nations created to raise awareness and funding to combat malaria, a leading cause of death among children in Africa.
At the school in Rye, the overnight open-gym efforts raise money for the worldwide organization. Holy Child and Fordham Prep students each donate $10 — about the price of a bug net that can protect a family from mosquitoes carrying the disease — to play basketball through the night in the Gryphons’ gymnasium.
With all the proceeds going to the organization to purchase nets, Welsh doesn’t mind losing sleep for a worthy cause.
“A net approximately saves four lives in Africa,” Welsh said. “I love playing basketball, and doing it to help many people in Africa is great.”
After partaking in the experience as a freshman, the three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and lacrosse felt compelled to contribute more. So Welsh spoke with Catherine Anne Gray, the founder and chair of the Holy Child event at the time, and decided to help Gray organize and run the program the following year.
When Gray graduated from Holy Child in 2012, Welsh assumed the role as chair. And in her first year running the event, Welsh raised more than $1,000. At this year’s event next spring, she’s looking to surpass that mark.
Besides her fundraising efforts for Nothing But Nets, Welsh also has dedicated herself to helping the basketball team excel on the court. The Gryphons are off to a fast start this season with a 5-2 record.
The senior captain’s ability to dictate the flow of the game has been critical to the offense’s early success. But for Holy Child coach Mike Duignan, it’s her ability to lead that makes her so instrumental to the team.
“She’s the engine that our train runs on and does anything we need her to do,” Duignan said. “If our opponent prepares to stop her, she will facilitate the ball so the others can gain confidence. If they don’t respect her outside shot, she will punish them with her scoring.
“She leads by example and always steps up when we need her.”
Name: Maggie Welsh
School: Holy Child
Other sports: Soccer, lacrosse
Likes: Chocolate ice cream, “The Breakfast Club” movie, the Knicks
Dislikes: Flowers, olives and flying
Future plans: To play lacrosse and study health sciences at Gettysburg College