News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Lessons learned in sports sustain Sisters grad

Maggie Bidasolo always operates at maximum capacity.

Knowing how to manage her interests, energy level, and academics was imperative at an early age. A Sisters High School graduate who was partially homeschooled, she credits her father and being an athlete with teaching her how to master time management.

Bidasolo family took an unorthodox approach to her education.

“When I went to high school it was a hybrid situation. I wanted to be a high-end athlete and be involved in giving back to the community, while still being the best student possible,” she said.

She didn’t follow the norm for how she approached her college career and took a gap year after high school. Even after hearing from a lot of people that taking a gap year was not a good idea, she and her parents decided to continue their untraditional approach to education. Because of the gap year, Bidasolo wasn’t eligible for a lot of the scholarships. That was difficult when planning for college, but it was a price she was willing to pay.

“My dad thought after working so hard in high school and being involved in such time-consuming competitive sports, I needed a break,” she said.

Bidasolo’s parents also thought working in the real world before going to college would be beneficial. Because of the gap year, Bidasolo wasn’t with her graduating class when she headed to her family’s alma mater, the University of Oregon.

Bidasolo says her passion and desire for perfection began with gymnastics. She started taking gymnastics when she was 2 years old.

“I was a competitive gymnast until I was 13,” she said. “I took lessons in Bend and Redmond. I joke that I grew up in the back seat of my mother’s minivan doing homework by the dome light as she drove me to practice.”

Bidasolo was the state champion gymnast on the beam in 2009. She spent 4-1/2 hours, five nights a week practicing, then traveled on weekends to competitions throughout the West Coast.

“It was a big part of my life and taught me how to time manage, be coachable and disciplined. A lot of my perfectionist tendencies came from gymnastics because I was always striving for perfect scores,” she said.

Then the moment all gymnasts fear happened. In the middle of a competition, she hurt her back badly and had to retire at 13 from gymnastics. Needing an athletic outlet, she shifted her focus to competitive dance. Bidasolo danced competitively through high school from age 13 to 18.

“I did everything from ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical,” she said.

One of Bidasolo’s goals was to be a cheerleader so she could be involved with the Oregon football scene. She missed the team by two spots.

“That was hard,” she said, “but also the biggest blessing. When I thought about all of the time I’d be investing I began to ask myself what I would do with dance after college. For me, it didn’t translate into the kind of career I wanted to pursue. My dream to be on the sidelines at football games got smooshed.”

It was time to find another way to achieve her goal. Bidasolo overcame the setback by seeking out internships that got her on the field and part of the action. She found her role as an intern much more fun, and she could put into practice the sports business skills she was learning at U of O. It also provided a way for her to rebuild her network of friends.

Being from a town like Sisters, she had to adjust and recognize that the relationships she’d established in her hometown wouldn’t be waiting for her at U of O. Coupled with an overwhelming sense of isolation from taking a gap year, Bidasolo had to find a way to make new friends — something she hadn’t needed to do during her childhood.

“I had to figure out who I was, what I wanted in the next four years, and where I wanted to go. I sought out communities like I had in Sisters and recreated that support system through joining clubs,” said Bidasolo. “I also got really involved in the athletic department. It took a long time. I didn’t really feel like I was settled until halfway through my sophomore year.”

Up until that point, Bidasolo felt like every day was a grind. She knew in her heart it was all going to work out but admits it was really tough for a while.

“I have a fear of complacency,” she said. “I’m really self-motivated, which comes from always being an athlete. Then in college, I wasn’t an athlete anymore, and needed to find somewhere to put all that perfectionist energy.”

Internships gave her a new direction and taught her business skills through interactions with executives from Nike, Adidas, and the NFL. She began to transfer her athletic skills into arenas that could take her into a career after

graduation.

Finding a job in sports happened faster than she imagined. She accepted a position her junior year as a Learfield IMG Oregon Sports Property Assistant within the Oregon Athletics’ corporate sponsorship department.

“I helped execute all the contract deliverables within those sponsor relationships. To do that job during college was all about time management,” she said.

Then her senior year, she was hired by CaptainU as an account manager of event sales and partnerships. CaptainU is an online recruiting ecosystem that helps connect high school athletes looking to compete at the next level with college coaches.

Through all her challenges, a mantra her father used helped her keep going.

“We’re a huge football family and when things get really hard, I come back to the saying, ‘Move the chain,’” she said. “In football, when you get a first down, the chain markers move; if you move the chains enough times, eventually you’ll score. You don’t need a big Hail Mary or touchdown pass or 50-yard crazy play to save you. It’s those in-the-middle, nose-grinding decisions, and incremental things that help you score.”

At no time was that philosophy more important than when the Bidasolo family home in Sisters burned down. Recently hired by CaptainU, Bidasolo was in her last term. She got the call that their family lost everything in the fire.

“I came home from college to help them regroup while still working and going to school full-time. I was still able to graduate in June. Then, two days after graduation, I moved across the country to my new home in Nashville. Seven months later, we’re still trying to get the pieces of our home and our life back together.

“My family is a very close unit and we operate together,” said Bidasolo. “Life and tragedy happen but the Sisters community has been incredibly helpful to get us back on our feet. The outpouring of love and support from everybody has been overwhelmingly incredible, but it’s still hard being that far away from home and my parents.”

Growing up in Sisters taught Bidasolo that you can make family wherever you go, and your family isn’t always who you share blood with.

“I’ve had so many adopted aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings,” she said. “The town turned into my family. I took that with me to college and created a core group of family that to this day I rely on. I pick the people that I love. I know I’ll do that forever wherever I go. It makes a strong support

system.”

 

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