WNBA Star Maddy Siegrist Still Finds Time in Her Busy Schedule for Villanova

Maddy Siegrist may be living her hoops dream in the WNBA, but she still has a soft spot for her alma mater, Villanova University.

What began as a text chain from Ginna Siegrist to family and friends ballooned into something of a phenomenon. Suddenly, she needed 402 tickets. “I looked at my Venmo account, and it had something like $8,000 in it—I kept having to call back for more tickets,” Ginna recalls. “The woman in the office said, ‘You said you wanted 50 tickets. Now, you want 400. I have to get my boss.’”

Then a rookie forward for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings, Maddy Siegrist, Ginna’s daughter, was in Brooklyn this past June to play the New York Liberty—and it seemed like just about everyone from her hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, wanted to be there. On a night that Siegrist scored just six points, Liberty forward Breanna Stewart was having an incredible game. But what really made Wings coach Latricia Trammell happy took place in a fourth-quarter team huddle. “I asked during the timeout, ‘Is there anyone who wants to guard Stewart?’” Trammell recalls. “We’d tried some different people, but Maddy was the only one who raised her hand. She walked off afterward saying it was the biggest learning experience she ever had.”

Not that Siegrist stifled Stewart much. She finished with a game-high 32 points in the Liberty’s 102-93 victory. “I just wanted to go into the game,” Siegrist says. “I wanted to show my teammates and coaches I definitely was not scared. I wanted to try and do to her what people have tried to do to me—make it hard for her.”

- Advertisement -

Few players made it hard for Siegrist when she played at Villanova University. During a career that ended a little over a year ago, she was the school’s all-time leading scorer, Big East Player of the Year twice and one of only five players in women’s college basketball history to score 1,000 points in a season.

Maddy Siegrist as a dominant force at Villanova University.
Maddy Siegrist as a dominant force at Villanova University. Courtesy of Villanova Athletics.

Dallas chose Siegrist third overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft, and though her rookie accomplishments were modest, she was part of a team that reached the second round of the playoffs. “She grew mentally, physically and emotionally last season,” Trammell says. “One of the things I respect about Maddy is that I believe she can lead. That’s what you want from a player.”

A Passion for the Game

Early on, Ginna Siegrist thought her daughter might make a good ballerina. Even then, Maddy had a rare combination of competitive fire and deep faith. When she made her first communion, she told her parents it was the greatest day of her life. She still attends Mass as often as she can, but she hates losing so much that her parents made her and her brother George Jr. stop playing one-on-one because the games became too violent. “I’ve definitely caught a ball to the face or the back of the head when we were growing up,” says George, who played club basketball at the University of Pennsylvania.

Maddy Siegrist at 14 months.
Maddy Siegrist at 14 months. Courtesy of Ginna Siegrist.

The first time Ginna went to one of her daughter’s Catholic Youth Organization games, she learned quickly that there was another version of her then-seventh-grade daughter. “I saw one of my husband’s friends, and he said, ‘Oh, my gosh. Your daughter is a beast!’” Ginna says. “I didn’t know that was a basketball compliment.”

Maddy Siegrist as an emerging player at Our Lady of Lourdes High School.
Maddy Siegrist as an emerging player at Our Lady of Lourdes High School. Courtesy of Ginna Siegrist.

It makes sense that the Siegrist children play hoops. Their father, George Sr., was a power forward at Marist College in Poughkeepsie from 1987 to 1991 and later a longtime assistant for the team there. Ginna didn’t play basketball—she was a cheerleader. So were her sisters, and Maddy’s grandmother cheered at St. John’s University.

- Partner Content -

Maddy is the oldest of four kids. George Jr. works in New York; Caroline is a nursing student at Villanova; and Patrick is in high school. Maddy spent plenty of time hanging around Marist as a young girl watching her father coach. At first, she was tall and lean and “very raw,” according to her father. “That drove her to work even harder,” he says.

In seventh grade, Maddy headed to Our Lady of Lourdes High School. “She was a skinny, 5-foot-9 kid,” recalls Al Viani, the girls head basketball coach. “She was good, but I’ve had others in ninth grade who were far better than she was already.”

Siegrist started as a freshman, scoring seven or eight points a game. By her senior year, she was averaging 32 points and 15 rebounds a game. This past January, with family, friends, former teachers and high school teammates looking on, Our Lady of Lourdes retired her jersey. “It was a surreal feeling,” says Siegrist. “When I was sitting there, it was as if nothing changed. I felt like I was ready to go into a game.”

The basketball star on the court
Maddy Siegrist on the court. Photo by Ed Williams.

Early in the regional semifinal round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, The University of Miami held a 21-POINT LEAD over Villanova. Siegrist never thought the game would end badly—until it did. Miami won 70-65. “I grabbed [my coach’s] hand and said, ‘It can’t be over,’” She remembers. “It all hit me at once.”

Siegrist had some college scholarship offers. “St. John’s and Seton Hall really wanted her,” Viani says.

Viani’s daughter, Jenna, had played for the Wildcats, so he knew then-coach Harry Perretta, who visited Our Lady of Lourdes and was impressed. “Harry said, ‘We like her,’” recalls Viani. “I said, ‘You should offer her. I think she’s a perfect fit.’”

- Advertisement -

Once Perretta offered a scholarship, Siegrist was in—though her Villanova debut lasted just two days. She broke her ankle during the second preseason practice and needed surgery to insert three screws. She’d healed enough by mid-season, but Perretta redshirted her, keeping her out of games.

Cleared to play in 2019, Siegrist averaged almost 19 points and nine rebounds per game for a team that went 18-13 and didn’t qualify for the postseason. One of those losses came against Drexel University, which was then coached by Denise Dillon, a former Villanova player who took over the program in 2020 when Perretta retired.

Under Dillon, Siegrist had a strong sophomore season. In 2021–22, she was Big East Player of the Year after averaging 25 points and nine rebounds a game. But she wasn’t satisfied. “I asked her, ‘What do you want?’” Dillon says. “She said, ‘I want to be a pro.’”

Siegrist would often finish practice, head back to her apartment for a couple hours, then return to the gym to take more shots. Dillon talks about Siegrist turning practice drills into “bloodbaths” her senior year. During harmless team-building competitions to see which group of VU players could get the most cotton balls into a cup, Siegrist would “sabotage the game if her team wasn’t winning,” according to Dillon. She wasn’t going to lose.

“I hate losing in anything,” says Siegrist. “I’ll play it off, but when my family plays a game of Monopoly, I’ll cheat to win. Not as much now, but when I was younger, I’d definitely cheat to win.”

Siegrist’s brother asserts that his sister also cheated during H-O-R-S-E contests. Whenever she missed a shot, she’d catch the ball off the rim, shoot a layup and say she intended to do it that way. “It used to take an hour-and-a-half to play one game,” George says.

Maddy doesn’t dispute that claim. “I’m not a good loser,” she says.

This past January, with family, friends, former teachers and high school teammates looking on, Our Lady of Lourdes retired her jersey. “It was a surreal feeling,” says Siegrist. “When I was sitting there, it was as if nothing changed. I felt like I was ready to go into a game.”

And not just on the basketball court. “Everything we do is always a competition,” says Brooke Mullin, a senior at Drexel, who lived with Siegrist for three years at Villanova before transferring. “Even if we’re walking, we’re doing it at high speeds to see who would be the first one there.”

No amount of extra work or sacrifice could’ve prepared Siegrist for the 2022–23 season—one of the most wildly successful in Villanova women’s history. The Wildcats reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, packing Finneran Pavilion for the first two tourney games. They did the same for the first visit from the University of Connecticut, a perennial power.

Siegrist’s teammates willingly played a supporting role to one of the nation’s top stars. “That’s why we were so good,” Mullin admits. “When everybody did what they had to do, we won. If that meant Maddy was going to score 40 points, the players threw her the ball.”

The success brought thousands of new fans to the program—and Siegrist never turned down an autograph or a photo request. “If I can impact one life, it’s worth it,” she says.

When the Wildcats played at Marist to kick off the 2022–23 season, it seemed like everyone from Siegrist’s early life was in attendance. “My second-grade teacher was there,” she says.

Siegrist estimates 200 kids swarmed her daughter after the game at St. John’s, and it took her an hour to finish signing autographs. “She was an ambassador for women’s basketball,” Mullin says. “She enjoyed it—she never complained.”

Early in the regional semifinal round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, the University of Miami held a 21-point lead over Villanova. Siegrist never thought the game would end badly. Until it did. Miami won 70-65. “I grabbed Denise’s hand and said, ‘It can’t be over,’” Siegrist remembers. “It all hit me at once.”

Thanks to NCAA rules that granted athletes an extra season due to the pandemic, Siegrist could’ve spent another season with the team. But she’d already made up her mind. “I was going to treat it like my last year,” she says.

Seventeen days after the Miami game, the WNBA held its draft in New York. Still more than a month away from graduation, Siegrist was headed to Dallas. “We were helping her pack, and it was so crazy,” Mullin says. “Two weeks earlier, we were playing in the tournament. We had a kumbaya moment, where all the roommates were hugging it out. That was it.”

The Dallas Wings had reached the playoffs the year prior, so Siegrist would be joining an established team that didn’t need a rookie to come in and start right away. Siegrist averaged a modest eight minutes a game. “She battled,” says Travis Charles, the team’s general manager and vice president of basketball operations.

But the team wanted someone who could score. “She proved she belonged,” Charles says. “But she just didn’t have the opportunity.”

Trammell expects Siegrist to contribute more this season, but the Wings coach says she must improve her ballhandling and one-on-one defense. This past fall and winter, Siegrist worked out at Villanova, where she was special assistant to the senior women’s administrator. She spent part of the spring practicing in Dallas. Wings training camp began in late April, and the season commences later this month. With one pro season behind her, Siegrist feels more comfortable. “Last year, I was kind of like a freshman again,” she says. “I used it as a learning experience.”

At Villanova, Siegrist lived, ate and went to class with her teammates. In Dallas, she’s mostly on her own. There have been a few dinners with teammates and visits from friends and family, but Siegrist has had to create a new life for herself. She’s worked hard to improve her game, and she goes to Mass as often as she can. “It clears your mind,” she says of the latter. “I’m 22 years old, and it’s tough to see past Friday. But whatever you’re going through in your life, there’s a plan.”

Related: White Clay Creek Country Club Will Host a Major Golf Tournament

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!