Sugar Bears hope to ’ Proffitt’ from experience

Four years ago, Sugar Bear Maggie Proffitt was a part of coach Sandra Rushing’s first recruiting class at UCA.

She has been a big part in helping the Sugar Bears reach the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Proffitt never imagined going to one.

“Growing up, I thought ‘I’ll never play in the NCAA Tournament,’” she said. “Even coming to UCA because we are a small mid-major, so you have to win the conference to get there. It’s just crazy for us to do it two years in a row.”

The Sugar Bears are a 14 seed and will open the tournament in a subregional at Austin, Texas, against the No. 3 seed University of Texas in the Lexington Region of the tournament.

UCA is sitting in familiar position as last season. It was the No. 14 seed against No. 3 Louisville in the Dallas region. Louisville won, 87-60.

Proffitt said the team is more focused this year.

“Last year made us a little nervous and jittery, but this year, I think we can come in more relaxed,” she said. “We didn’t really know what to expect or how it was going to operate. This year, we can go in and have fun.”

During the March 13 NCAA Selection Show, the Sugar Bears had to wait toward the end of the show to find out their first-round matchup.

UCA’s projected first round opponents passed by on the show, which was met with sighs from the Sugar Bears.

“At first, we thought we were going to Florida State,” Proffitt said. “Then, we thought we were going to Washington and then, we thought it was Mississippi State, which would have been cool. I’m from 20 miles down the road from Starkville, so it would have been cool to play there. We’re really excited to play Texas. It should be a great game.”

In the last four years, Proffitt has garnered a myriad of accolades in the Southland Conference.

In her sophomore year, she was named to the All-Southland Conference Second Team, the Southland All-Academic Second Team. In her junior year, Proffitt was named to the All-Academic and All-Southland First Teams.

This year, she was named to the All-Southland Conference First Team for the second time and took home Southland Tournament MVP honors.

She has also been a four-time SLC Player of the Week.

She has started 114 games out of 123 and goes into the tournament as UCA’s second highest point total in the program’s Division I era with 1,629 points.

As a senior, Proffitt knows her college playing days are numbered, but she has a plan of possibly going into coaching after the tournament.

In the days leading up to the Women’s Final Four, Proffitt will participate in a program, “So You Want to be a Coach?” in Dallas, Texas, the championship site.

“Coach Rushing called me one day,” Proffitt said. “I think she sent two or three players at Delta State and they really loved it. She knows that I want to get into coaching, so I looked into it. I thought it would be really fun to try to network and meet some people.”

Proffitt said she has had positive influences, which piqued her interest in coaching.

“My parents coached me growing up, and I’ve had so many great coaches over the years who have influenced me and some great role models,” she said. “I just want to impact other kids.”

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