Maggie Nedoma was always one of the best players on the court. At Berea-Midpark High School, which is in a Cleveland suburb a little over three hours away, she holds the career kills record and the single season records for kills, service aces and digs.
After a storied prep career, Nedoma got her start in the collegiate level at Southern Illinois University. She picked up where she left off and in her freshman season, she had 196 kills. The cliche “sophomore slump” didn’t happen with her. She led the team with 249 kills at 3.41 per set.
Despite her on-court success, something didn’t sit right with Nedoma. She was having exponential success and was prepared for the next step in her career, but she felt she needed a change for her own good.
Her relationships with her teammates weren’t as strong anymore, either. She wanted a new challenge. She needed to grow in a different environment.
“We weren’t really getting along as much and it kind of felt like I wasn’t moving forward in my own career development,” Nedoma said. “It felt like I should try to find somewhere else where I’m getting pushed harder with girls that love being around the game like me.”
In the offseason, she made her way to Ohio, and after just one visit, she knew she had found her school. Nedoma didn’t even bother visiting any other schools. Her decision was made after one visit, and she committed to play for the Bobcats that same day.
Nedoma felt like she made the right choice because she immediately felt more at home at Ohio. Her new teammates embraced her and made her feel like she had been on the roster for the last two years.
“Most of the time, especially at SIU and even in high school I was always a really shy person,” she said. “It was really hard to kind of open myself up to being comfortable around people but these girls, my teammates, are so open about everything and just so honest all the time so it was just really easy to open myself up and settle in immediately.”
Once she established her social role on the team, she attempted to carve out her role as one of the Bobcats’ top players, but it didn’t happen from the get-go. Nedoma was hopeful that based off her previous success, it would translate to Ohio.
After a mainly passive spring, she started to find and establish her on-the-court role according to coach Deane Webb.
“She got so much more physical in the summer,“ Webb said. “I think coming into this fall, she showed up in the green and white scrimmage as one of our best attackers.”
It was then where Nedoma started to find her niche for Ohio. Following the intrasquad green and white scrimmage, the talent and success that she had experienced in past destinations had started to show itself for Ohio. She just had to match the level of play that her teammates were at first.
Her emergence as one of Ohio’s more potentially dominant players started on the road at Wisconsin-Green Bay on Aug. 30 at the Green Bay Invite. She led the team with 19 kills on a .267 hitting percentage in Ohio’s 3-1 match loss. Her skills continued to showcase against Northeastern on Aug. 31. She recorded seven kills on a .375 hitting percentage in the Bobcats sweep.
And naturally, with her on-court presence noticeable, her off-court presence has begun to make an impact too.
“I’ve finally stepped into the shoes of being one of the main people that the other teammates go to when they need somebody to help pick them up,” Nedoma said. “And for me that’s awesome that they’ve accepted me, one, into that role and two, that Deane helped me push myself into that role.”
That leadership role has potential to turn Nedoma into one of the more reliable players on the team in only her first year at Ohio. With a schedule that features big schools such as Kansas State and Virginia, the Bobcats will need leadership and talent to match.
But for now, Nedoma is focused on integrating herself more and more as a part of the Bobcats. The roles on and off the court will change as the season wears on, but one thing will remain the same.
She found the home that pushes her to be better.