This weekend I travelled to Madison, Wisconsin. While there, I spoke with a local Cranstonian, Maia Caito, a former Cranston East student and All-State basketball player. She is currently on the University of Wisconsin Women’s basketball team. I caught up with the 6’4 freshman center in Madison to see how she was transitioning to college, and what it is like to be a college basketball player.
Christian Martinelli: How is your Freshman year going so far?
Maia Caito: It’s good. It’s definitely an adjustment balancing everything like school and work.
CM: Has it been tough being 1,000 miles from home? Away from family?
MC: Yeah, I think everyone gets homesick but it’s different being away from Rhode Island. There’s definitely a culture that we have in the Northeast, and the culture in the Midwest is very different. People in the Midwest are very nice. The atmosphere is different, especially being in a college versus being in Cranston, where it’s more of like a small town. Here it’s more of downtown in the middle of a city. I like Madison because it’s very diverse here.
CM: When did you start playing basketball?
MC: I started in 8th grade, I played in Providence rec leagues, then I started playing AAU, and then once I got to high school I started playing for Cranston East.
CM: How was your time at Cranston East as a student athlete?
MC: I loved it and I loved Cranston East in general. I came from a very small charter school in Providence, where I graduated Middle school with thirty-eight kids, so I went from a very small school to Cranston East, and it was a big change for me. Cranston East is like a family. They really care about you as a person. They knew the potential I had as a basketball player before I even knew it myself, and they helped me to realize that. It was important that I had that type of support from my school.
CM: Who was your inspiration for you as a player in high school?
MC: Frank Kizer. He was my coach at East my senior year and was a really big influence on me. We think about basketball in the same way so we connected in that way, but also as a person he cared about me being the best all around person I can be, rather than just a basketball player.
CM: When did you start getting offers from Division 1 schools?
MC: My first offer was my sophomore year. I started getting letters my freshman year, and I remember my first letter was actually from Stanford or something which was crazy. Junior year is when things really kicked into high gear. I started talking to coaches and going on visits. It gets to be overwhelming, because coaches can be flashy, and want to show you all around to school. Luckily, I had people around me that had been through this before. They were a huge help to me.
CM: What was it about Wisconsin that stood out from all the other schools?
MC: I remember my coach picked me up on my official visit, and driving into Madison it reminded me a lot of downtown Providence, which took me by surprise because it felt so familiar. I had been told by a coach before when you get to a school that is for you, you’ll just know. You won’t have to question it, you’ll feel it. You’ll just know, and that’s when I knew. The atmosphere of Madison in general, the entire city is covered in red. It’s a crazy atmosphere, and everyone is so supportive of the athletes because we’re going through so much. It’s great to know you have people supporting you.
many offers because they just wouldn’t see you. You need to learn to brand yourself, to get film out there and to market yourself to coaches. It’s huge and no one really teaches you to do that until you’re already getting recruited.
CM: Do you have any careers you plan to pursue after college?
MC: I’m a political science major, and minoring in criminal justice. I want to go to law school. I’m very interested in doing something involving social justice, and incorporating law. Even if I don’t become a lawyer, I want that platform to make social change.
CM: What kind of social change would you like to make?
MC: Being a girl and gender equality, fighting to close the wage gap. Fighting for equality, being a minority racial inequality is a huge thing. Especially going to a predominantly white institution it’s definitely hard, but that’s something I see as a challenge to overcome. I think there’s a platform here that I can start to use to bring attention to certain issues that are important to me.
CM: Is a goal of yours one day to play in the WNBA?
MC: Definitely. You always want to set your goals high, but I think it’s a little more realistic for me to play overseas. Plus the pay is better, so it’s definitely something I would consider after college.
CM: What is your goal to accomplish during your basketball career at Wisconsin?
MC: We definitely have a “shoot for the moon mentality” here, but before we go to a national championship, my goal is definitely to win the Big Ten championship before I finish my four years. Just championships in general that’s what our goal is.
It is very important to support our local Rhode Islanders, and shed a light on them since we are such a close knit community whenever they accomplish something impressive like Maia has. She wants to make an impact on and off the basketball court, and she is definitely making the city of Cranston and the state of Rhode Island proud. She is doing what only a few rare Rhode Islanders get to do by playing in the Big Ten. There will be a lot of pressure being at such a big university with the entire city and state watching her, but she is ready to embrace it all. The Badgers start their season on November 11th versus the Winthrop Eagles. To keep up with Maia’s and her teams progress you can go to www.uwbadgers.com
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