A Year to Remember

Posted By: MariaPalarino
Posted On: December 16th, 2019
Attending: Waterford Institute of Technology


For my final blog of 2019, I wanted to highlight all of the highs and lows I went through this year (and of course had to include a bunch of photos too!). This year has been full of many accomplishments and amazing opportunities, but also had some difficult times. While I have been completely enjoying my time in Ireland, I have also been missing some special moments with my family. However, after looking back on everything that has happened, I wouldn’t change a thing!



  • January 1st: Rang in the new year with some of my best friends – Amy, Jade and Dana. It is crazy that a year later, we are celebrating from all over the world. Amy is back home in Melbourne, Australia and Jade is finishing up her senior year in Brooklyn. And as you already know, me and Dana are in Ireland (but will actually be in Budapest for NYE!).
  • January 28th: Scored my 1,000th point in a Terrier uniform at Mount St. Mary’s University. My mom, dad, Aunt Lisa, and 2 month old baby cousin Ella were in the stands.


Jade Johnson, Amy Oneill, Dana DiRenzo and myself ringing in 2019 at a rooftop in Brooklyn, New York.



  • The bulk of conference play in the NEC is played in February. So, this month was full of basketball!




  • March 2nd: Celebrated senior day. It was one of the most fun games I played throughout my entire career, beating Bryant 101-77. My mom, dad, brother and boyfriend were all able to make it up for the game. We celebrated after with a yummy meal in Chinatown!


Mom, Athletic Director Irma Garcia, Me, Dad, and Assistant Director of Athletics Maggie Martini on Senior Day


  • March 11th: Played in my last collegiate basketball game, losing to Mount St. Mary’s at home in a close battle, 74-80.
  • March 12: Celebrated my 22nd birthday with my friends at Pedro’s (a delicious Mexican restaurant in Dumbo, NY).
  • March 17th – 23rd: Spent spring break in La Romana, Dominican Republic. This was a warm, fun week spent with a mixture of St. Francis athletes; some girls from my team, the men’s soccer team, and the women’s volleyball team.


Dana DiRenzo, Me, Jade Johnson, and Abby Andersen in La Romana



  • April 11th – 14th: Had a lot of visitors! My best friend, Casey Aunkst, came up for a few days and I got to show her around New York. While she was here, my Dad, Uncle Jeff, Pap Butch, and family friend Mark Puma took us to the Pittsburgh Penguin’s playoff game on Long Island. We also ate some great meals, toured the 9/11 museum, and went to a comedy show.


Dad, Uncle Jeff, Casey, Me, Mark, and Pap at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for some playoff hockey


  • April 30th: Went to my last SFBK athletic banquet. I am still so proud of my teammates Ally Lassen, Amy Oneill, and Dana DiRenzo for winning well-deserved awards on this night! The banquet was so much fun and we got to enjoy the night with all of the other teams.


Jade Johnson, Me, Coach Cim, Dana DiRenzo, Coach Coscia, and Amy Oneill at the athletic banquet



  • May was spent trying to cross off the last few things on our NYC bucket lists and saying final goodbyes. A lot of these days were spent at my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn (Fornino’s) and having a bunch of picnics in Brooklyn Bridge park.
  • May 2nd: Said goodbye to Aussie #1. We saw Jade off to the airport as she was headed to spend her summer at home in Adelaide before returning to Brooklyn for her senior year. This was the first of many hard goodbyes this month!


Me with all the Aussies, sending Jade off to the airport


  • May 17th – 19th: More visitors! My brother, William, and his girlfriend, Mandy, came to NYC for a weekend. We saw Chicago on Broadway, walked through central park, and spent a night at Brooklyn Brewery.


William and I in Central park


  • May 23rd: I graduated! This was such a special day. My genius best friend, Dana, was the Valedictorian. Coach Thurston, who recruited our senior class, was able to come to the ceremony and celebrate with us after. Etta Andersen, who was an old teammate of ours also came the whole way from Denmark. And of course, my parents were there too. On this day, I had to say goodbye to some of my closest friends.
  • May 24th: Left Brooklyn. On this morning, Amy (Aussie #2), Dana, Ally, myself and all of our families went to breakfast. I remember standing in front of St. Francis after, saying goodbye to them and exchanging long hugs. I think I cried for at least the first hour of the car ride back home (and we all have proof from Snapchat that Ally cried the whole way back to Penn Station on the subway). I know that I will see my friends again someday, but it was hard to say goodbye knowing that some of them live on the opposite side of the world.


2019 St. Francis Terrier Women’s Basketball senior class with former coaches, Coach Thurston and Coach Dodson, on the Coney Island Boardwalk, following the graduation ceremony



  • June 20th: Lost one of my biggest fans – Pap Bill. He had been struggling with Parkinson’s disease for the past few years and passed away in June. Our family misses him more and more each day and it seems like all we can do is think about him and wish that he could be with us, but we know he is somewhere in heaven smiling. I think that I ended up in Ireland for a reason, as this is where Pap Bill’s “Flynn” roots are from. He was a proud Irish man, so his gravestone is decorated beautifully with a Celtic cross and shamrocks. We always had a special connection because of basketball and I think about him often. I wish that I could tell him about my experience here… I know he would love it!
Pap’s gravestone


  • June 28th – July 1st: Spent a week in the Great Smokey Mountains. I had an amazing trip with my boyfriend Brett’s family, the Laffoon’s, in Tennessee. It was beautiful and we got to do some pretty cool stuff like zip line through the mountains, taste a bunch of moonshine, go on a few hikes, and walk across the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge.


Brett and his brother, Cam, posing with the mountains



  • July 1st – July 3rd: Went to Nashville. Brett and I spent the last few days of our vacation in Nashville. We ate some great fried chicken, listened to plenty of live music, and I got to catch up with an old childhood old friend.


Me and Brett on Broadway in Nashville


  • July 28th: Celebrated a tradition with my BFF. It is a long standing tradition for me and my best friend, Emma Mull, to celebrate our birthdays at the Grand Concourse Sunday Brunch in Station Square with our families. Emma and I were born three days a part and have been best friends since 3rd grade. Our birthdays are in March, but due to college we had to postpone this year’s brunch until July.


Me, Emmas sister Maranda, and Emma in Station Square



  • August 2nd – 4th: Went to Hershey Park. Another postponed birthday event… For my birthday, Brett took me to Hershey Park for a weekend! We went to the amusement park until it started raining and spent the next day at the chocolate factory.
  • August 19th: Officially started my journey to Ireland. I took a detour on my way to JFK airport and stopped in Brooklyn to see my friends/former teammates, Ally and Abby. I spent the night with them before heading to the airport the next morning to catch my flight to Dublin. (A long few days of travel all explained here)
  • August 21st – August 31st: Spent a week in Belfast for SCL orientation. Upon our arrival in Ireland, we were invited to Belfast, where SCL is headquartered, for an introduction week. I got to meet all of the other scholars and staff, started getting involved in the community, and got to see some of Belfast.


The Victory Scholars at the Peace Wall in Belfast



    • September 1st – 3rd: Explored my new home. Michael and I were greeted in Waterford by our coaches, Jillian and Mick. We were welcomed to the Pepper’s house for our first meal and I met up with all of the Wildcats later that night at Geoff’s. After my first few days in Waterford, I was able to check out the city! (All the details from this day are here)
    • September 18th: Went to Dublin for the league launch. I spent a day in Dublin with tons of players from around the league. We got to do a photoshoot and draw games for the Cup. (All the details from this day are here)
    • September 28th: Scott and Rachel got married. One thing that I had to sacrifice by coming to Ireland for a year was missing a lot of important moments with my family. I was meant to be a bridesmaid in my cousin Scott’s wedding this year, but was not able to make it. Me and my cousins are extremely close so it was hard not being there. However, these two were so understanding and I am glad that Rachel is finally officially a part of the family!


Scott and Rachel on their wedding day


    • September 29th: Played in my first Super League basketball game. We started off the season strong with a win over Carlow and I got to play against a friend from home and Victory Scholar, Kaitlyn Slagus.


Kaitlyn and I after our first game



  • October 14th: Gave the Posset’s a tour of Waterford. Lexi and her grandparents came to visit me! (More details from this day are here)
  • October 29th: Ella turned one! I am obsessed with my baby cousin and hate that I am missing seeing her grow up this year. I mean come on look how cute she is. We FaceTime about once a week so that this little girl can remember who her favorite cousin is 😉 I also attended her first birthday party via FaceTime.


Baby Ella



  • November 16th: Had an epic/stressful night in Dublin. After a great win offer Liffey Celtics, Jas and I decided to stay over night in Dublin and do some shopping the following day. Long story short, Jas forgot her wallet on a bus on our way in to the city and we somehow managed to get it back within an hour or so. Oh, and the hotel reservations were all messed up somehow we ended up staying somewhere pretty fancy by accident. It was pretty crazy.
  • November 28th: Celebrated Thanksgiving, Irish style. Even though Thanksgiving is an American tradition, my coaches made sure I felt right at home. (If you want to know why I have so many things to be thankful for this year, check here)


Thanksgiving with the Wildcats



  • December 6th – 8th: Missed the 5th annual NYC trip. When I started college in Brooklyn, my mom and her sisters would bring my cousin Lauren up to NYC for a weekend around Christmas time. We usually go shopping and go see the Rockettes. Even though I don’t live there anymore, the tradition continued this year and the group got a lot bigger… even my dad and grandma went!
  • December 17th: Finished my first semester of grad school. I am very excited to be done with a long, difficult, time consuming semester! However, my program at WIT has been very enjoyable. I get to work with other students from all around the world.


Daniel Tracey, Joe Foley, Me and Tejas Girkar after a final presentation


    • December 18th – January 1st: Traveling to four different countries and many different cities. These 2 weeks will deserve their own blog post! A few of the other scholars and I have planned a two-week trip around Europe – from Ireland to Denmark, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Hungary. I am SO excited to see the world and visit a few friends along the way!

I am looking forward to enjoying these last few weeks of 2019 and am excited to see what 2020 brings!

Stay Updated! Sign up to our newsletter

Stay Updated! Sign up to our newsletter