Fairmont’s Westbeld has high hopes for final season at Notre Dame

Second annual Maddy Westbeld Basketball Clinic held at Trent Arena

The scene at Fairmont High School on Friday wouldn’t have been possible three years earlier on the same date.

• Maddy Westbeld coached dozens of kids at a basketball camp at Trent Arena.

• Westbeld got help from others in the college game, including Notre Dame teammate Olivia Miles.

• Westbeld offered hoodies with a MW logo designed by her sister for sale in the lobby.

The name, image and likeness era in college sports started in July 2021. Prior to that, athletes couldn’t profit from something as simple as hosting a camp. Westbeld held two camps Friday for different age groups. This was the second straight year she has returned to her high school for Maddy Westbeld Basketball Clinic.

“It really means everything to me to be able to see familiar faces that used to watch me in the stands,” she said. “It’s fun to be back with the kids that I grew up with. My coaches, all of us have gone on to the next level, and we all are really passionate about giving back to the community and to the next generation.”

Westbeld, a 6-foot-3 forward, was the No. 23 recruit in the nation when she was a senior at Fairmont in 2020. She lived up to that ranking with a productive four years at Notre Dame, averaging between 11 and 15 points every season and tallying 1,550 points in her career.

Westbeld ranks 16th in school history in scoring and eighth with 881 rebounds. She has started 120 games in the last four seasons.

Last season, Westbeld averaged 14.4 points and a career-best 8.7 rebounds. She earned an All-Atlantic Coast Conference Second Team honor for the second straight season. She helped lead Notre Dame to a 28-7 record and a third straight Sweet 16 appearance.

Now Westbeld, who graduated in May, gets the unique opportunity of adding to her legacy with a fifth season in college basketball. Her freshman season, played during the pandemic in 2020-21, didn’t count against her eligibility. The NCAA didn’t count it for anyone.

Westbeld announced in April she would return to Notre for one final season. On X (Twitter), she wrote simply, “Not done,” next to a shamrock emoji.

Westbeld was asked Friday if it was a given that she would return or if she had to think about it.

“I definitely thought about it,” she said. “There was a time I wanted to go pro. In the middle of the season, I didn’t want to think about it too much. I wanted to stay present and locked in and all that, so I had a really great conversation with my coach toward the end of the season and talked to people around me. Honestly, right after we lost, it was like, ‘I’m not done.’ It didn’t end how I wanted to.”

Westbeld returns along with All-American guard Hannah Hidalgo, who led the team in scoring (22.6) last season as a freshman, and senior guard Sonia Citron, the team’s second-leading scorer (17.3).

Miles, who was a second-team All-American two years ago, will return after missing last season with a knee injury.

Westbeld called the 2024-25 roster an amazing group. It will be her fifth year and also the fifth season for coach Niele Ivey, who took over the program when longtime coach Muffett McGraw stepped down in April 2020, about five months after Westbeld committed.

“I went to Notre Dame to create a legacy there,” Westbeld said. “I wanted to inspire the community and create a standard. Next year is going to be even more special because I’ve seen the growth of the program and the growth of my team and myself. It’s been really special.”

Westbeld has also added to the family tradition at Notre Dame. Her sister Katherine Westbeld scored 1,096 points from 2014-18 for teams that won 30-plus games every season. Katherine was the sixth-leading scorer for Notre Dame’s 2018 national championship team.

Katherine played before the NIL era, and Maddy knows how fortunate she is.

“I’m in a unique position,” Maddy said, “because I see my sister and recognize the sacrifices that she made to give me these opportunities. So many women trailblazers in general, in the college game, have done that for us. I feel like I have a special duty to give back and use my platform.”

Westbeld wants to play in the WNBA a year from now. Sabreena Merchant, of The Athletic, projects Westbeld will be the No. 6 pick in the 2025 draft.

“Westbeld does everything well,” Merchant wrote. “She can shoot from distance (36 percent on 3s in her college career), and she also can drive to the basket. Westbeld is a load in the paint and dominates on the glass. She can body bigger players on defense; her effort to limit (Kentucky’s Elizabeth) Kitley to 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting during the 2024 ACC season was an eye-opener. It’s unclear if she has All-Star upside, but Westbeld is the type of player winning teams find minutes for.”

The WNBA is drawing more eyeballs than ever this year with rookies Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese taking their star power from the college level to the pro game. Westbeld wants to be a part of that a year from now.

“People are really starting to watch,” she said, “and it’s an avenue that I’m aiming my life toward.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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