Graduating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic meant many changes to post-grad plans for the Class of 2020. However, for former women’s basketball team captain and Division III (DIII) standout Maddie Hasson ’20, basketball has managed to stay a constant in her transition to life after Bowdoin. But instead of running drills in Morrell Gymnasium and playing games across New England, she is now playing professional basketball in Dublin, Ireland.
Hasson is playing for the National League of Basketball in Ireland and attending classes at Griffith College in Dublin, where she is working towards her master’s degree. While her team—Templeogue Basketball Club—has yet to play a match this season, Hasson is ready to get back on the court after the inconclusive end to her last season.
When the NCAA announced on March 12 that all national championship games would be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hasson was devastated. She was not ready for her basketball career to come to such an abrupt end. The women’s basketball team saw victory at the NESCAC championship game and was gearing up for the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA DIII Championships when they learned that their season would be cut short.
It was a devastating loss, said Hasson, who felt that the team was just hitting its peak after so much hard work.
“It was just the most special thing in the world, and I think the pain of losing that really just goes to show how important it was to me and all of us, and just how influential it was,” said Hasson in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Just minutes after the heartbreaking news, Head Coach Adrienne Shibles informed the team that Hasson had received the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s (WBCA) NCAA Division III Player of the Year award, DIII women’s basketball’s most prestigious individual honor.
“I think that was one of the most incredible shows of selflessness and how close our team was, just how excited all my teammates were for me with that announcement,” said Hasson. “[It] really reaffirmed everything I already knew about how great my teammates are.”
With a desire to continue her basketball career, Hasson teamed up with the Sport Changes Life Foundation. The program connects outstanding athletes from the United States with professional basketball teams in Ireland and provides them with the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree and coach or tutor children in the area.
The opportunity to play professional basketball in Ireland had been on Hasson’s radar for a while. While attending South Portland High School, she knew of Bowdoin women’s basketball stand-out Shannon Brady ’16 who went on to play pro basketball through Sport Changes Life in Dublin a few years after she graduated. While Hasson was only a sophomore at the time and was not yet thinking about her post-grad plans, the program’s appeal stuck with her.
“I didn’t get to finish the career the way we had hoped to,” said Hasson. “I just wanted to play again and I knew I wanted to pursue my master’s.”
But the experience for Hasson has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon arriving in Ireland in early September, she had to quarantine for two weeks. Her classes at Griffith University were partially in-person until this past week, when Ireland switched back to its most severe level of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and all classes were changed to remote instruction. Hasson has yet to coach or tutor children, which is the volunteer aspect of Sport Changes Life.
As for the basketball itself, Hasson said it’s all the same game, whether in Brunswick or Dublin. She has been able to practice with her team and is currently roommates with two of her teammates who are also attending Griffith. While the Templeogue team has yet to play a match due to COVID-19, they have scrimmaged and adjusted to playing together.
“The dynamics of the team and all of that is obviously different than Bowdoin,” said Hasson. “It’s different to be thrown in with a new bunch, but it’s been a lot of fun so far playing organized basketball again and getting this new experience.”
Looking ahead at her basketball career, Hasson doubts that the WNBA is in the cards, but she would be open to playing for a different European professional basketball league. Moreover, Hasson is looking forward to seeing what opportunities might arise after she completes her master’s program in international business management.
To other Bowdoin basketball players looking to extend their sports careers beyond their time at the College, Hasson highly recommends looking into the Sport Changes Life program.
“It’s another year playing the sport I love while getting a master’s. It’s kind of a win-win situation,” said Hasson.