If you look up clutch in the dictionary you just might see a picture of Richie Maguire.
The two-time defending Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Champion in the men’s gymnastics all-around has been blazing a path of greatness during his tenure at Temple.
According to Senior Co-Captain Mike Ast, Maguire has ice running through his veins.
“Richie is Mr. Clutch,” Ast said. “He thrives under pressure and gets it done when it counts. He has more talent than anyone I’ve ever seen and always comes through in the clutch. He is extremely consistent and at a meet he just gets it done.”
The road to stardom hasn’t been an easy one for Maguire. He has been plagued with injuries his entire career and has been forced to work twice as hard than the average gymnast has to remain at the top of his game.
He also faced one of his toughest challenges last year when his father and uncle were both diagnosed with cancer before the season.
“Finishing first in the all-around at the ECAC championships last season was a special moment for me,” Maguire said.
“I decided to dedicate the season to my father and the best way to cap it off was with a win at the championships.
I worked through everything that was happening with he and my uncle.
The best gift I could have given them was winning the all-around at ECAC’s.”
Men’s Gymnastics coach Fred Turoff said that performance last year personified the type of person and athlete Maguire is.
“It was great how he was able to focus on the task at hand with all his family stresses and perform well with everything that was going on at the time,” Turoff said. “The thing that made that championship even greater was that he did it against our rival [Massachusetts].”
Turoff describes Maguire in four words, “talented, driven, temperamental and daring.”
These characteristics have helped Maguire become one of Temple’s all-time leaders in conference titles.
Maguire attributes his success to hard work and who else but his family.
“My family has always been extremely supportive,” Maguire said. “They have always told me to pursue my dreams.
No matter what I do in life they have told me to work hard and try to be the best at it.”
At the age of 6, Maguire decided the path he would choose in life would be gymnastics.
In high school he trained at the renowned International Gymnastics facility in Stroudsberg, Pa. where he honed his skills.
The rest is history.
This year will be his last campaign at Temple and he hopes to make it a memorable one.
The pressure is on since Temple will be hosting the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships for the first time since 1976.
“The National Championships are coming through Temple this year and we would love to make a strong showing on our home floor,” he said.
“Our goal is to make the top six since hosting the championships on your home turf is a big move for everyone. We have a good team this year and I’m confident we can do it.”
Turoff feels this year could be a breakout one for Maguire to provide some real exposure.
“Richie’s the two-time comeback champion, our leader, and motivating factor.
He is a good gymnast and has done well in the ECAC but has yet to make his mark nationally,” Turoff said.
“I feel this is the year he will do it and I would like to see him become an NCAA All-American.
Especially with the opportunity to do it on his home floor.”
Maguire hopes gymnastics are in his future beyond college, but won’t regret all he has accomplished so far if the last time he walks out on the mat is this season.
“Of course the Olympics are the ultimate goal and I will try for it, but there are many other things out there beyond gymnastics,” Maguire said.
“One thing I definitely want to get into though is the “Cirque de Soleil.” I really admire what those guys can do.”
The sky’s the limit for Maguire and there is nothing stopping him from pursuing those dreams.
For now, though, there is some unfinished business to be handled right here at Temple University.
Hopefully Mr. Clutch has a storybook ending to his already stellar career.
Doug Saylor can be reached at Dgsylr@aol.com