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Forever Friends

 

A chance moment in a hospital brought two future friends together and a relationship was started fueled by a sport they both love, basketball.

Former Mifflin County native and basketball enthusiast Taylor Dippery, and Penn State sharpshooter Maggie Lucas have been inseparable friends ever since. “I was in the hospital and it was my seventh or eighth IV and I was feeling down. It just wasn’t a good week at all. Talia East’s mother happened to be the one who came in to do my IV. I had absolutely no idea who she was so we were talking a little bit and she mentioned that I looked a little upset. I told her it was a tough week and on top of that my favorite basketball team had just lost.”

Lucas made her first visit to the youngster and they immediately clicked and became the best of friends.

“I met her in my first weekend after the Ohio State game and we just hit it off,” Lucas said. “I found out that she was a 3-point shooter as well on her wheelchair team.”

Dippery was in for a meeting of a lifetime after speaking to her nurse.

“I told her that my team was the Penn State Lady Lions and she told me that her daughter played for that team,” Dippery said. “To make a long story short, she asked me who was my favorite player and I told her Maggie Lucas. She then proceeded to tell me that was her daughter’s roommate at the time.”

When the nurse walked out of the room, the wheels started turning on the future meeting.

“She left the room and five minutes later she was back with her cell phone and handed it to me,” Dippery said. “On the other end of the phone was Maggie. So I talked to her for awhile and she was on her way back from Ohio State. Within the next week they were here to visit me.”

Both friends have a lot in common on the court as Lucas is a multi-award winning player as is Dippery. As a young child, Dippery was a multi-medalist in state competition at the sports jamboree competing from her wheelchair. Their love of the round ball has created a tight knit feeling between the two.

“We talk very often,” Lucas said. “She texts me often and we are really close. We’re like sisters from different mothers.”

Dippery feels the same way.

“We then exchanged numbers after they visited me and it just took off from there,” Dippery said. “I missed only one game from the start of her freshman year until her junior year. Every single game I was picked up by Betsy (Lucas) and her parents at the McDonalds on Front Street in Harrisburg. I would drive there and they would pick me up on their way through from Philadelphia. We did it for four years and we became close friends.”

Their closeness is strong both on the court and off as their friendship has no off-season.

“I used to go up with her for football games and went up a few times to play wheelchair basketball,” Dippery said.”

She was also present for possibly the biggest moment of the point guard’s life, the WNBA draft. “I actually was there with her during the WNBA draft. That was really cool,” Dippery said.

She also will always remember the atmosphere there when Maggie’s name was called by the Phoenix Mercury. “I got chills! It was pretty cool,” Dippery said. She recalls some of her favorite moments on the court. One was her own basketball career and the other is one that Maggie was involved in.

“We were definitely making it to Nationals in my last year. We went to Denver, Colorado for that,” Dippery said. “It’s just been amazing this year to go on that ride with them. They have really accepted me as part of their family. I would have to say my favorite game was this year’s game against Florida when they moved onto the Sweet 16. That was pretty memorable for Maggie’s last home game. My second favorite game was the night she dropped 39 on Georgetown. That is up there too.”

Lucas has strong feelings for her friend as well as she respects and admires her friend.

“She is one of the strongest people I know,” Lucas said. “It’s been a blessing getting to know her, especially over the last two years. My parents were actually able to pick her up and bring her to all of our home games.”

With Dippery watching the game in person to cheer her friend on, Lucas felt a sense of serenity with her presence.

“It felt right having her there,” Lucas said. “It’s always comforting knowing that she is in the arena watching.”

Most see Maggie Lucas the basketball player. Few see the off-the-court Maggie. Dippery states that she is as generous off the court as she is on. “She is a great kid! I feel blessed to call her a friend. We always tease each other that we were the sisters that weren’t meant to be. Like sisters from another mother,” Dippery said. “Off the court she is so kind hearted and would do anything for anyone. After the games she comes out and takes pictures whether they win or lose. She is there for the fans and I think that is a strong reason why she is a fan favorite.”

Dippery has plans of catching her friend in action this summer as a trip is planned for Phoenix and a trip to watch the Mercury play the Washington Mystics.

 

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