Whether she was playing lacrosse, basketball or soccer for Catonsville High, 5-foot-5 inch senior Marisa Massimini rose above her competitors because of her tenacious style of play and lightning-fast speed.
The three-sport standout, who will play lacrosse next season at Stevenson University, earned selection as the 2022 Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athlete of the Year.
Her 11 goals were fifth on the team and she added two assists, but her 31 draw controls and gritty play around the circle was what really impressed coach Cantey Bailey.
“That’s how she got to be so successful on the circle, she kind of didn’t want anyone to push her around,” Bailey said. “She not only held her own, but also didn’t let anyone else do that.”
When she did get the ball after the draw, it often led to golden scoring opportunities.
“In transition is kind of where she shined the most,” Bailey said. “Being able to show her speed and she has this amazing split dodge that she would do and when she was able to build up her speed and then go, that’s where she really excelled.”
Her work in the midfield wasn’t limited to offense.
“Defensively, she rarely got beat. No one beat her in a 1 v 1 sprint,” said Bailey who is confident her style of play will work at the next level. “I think Stevenson is going to be an excellent fit because it is somewhere where she can go right away and make an impact. She is going to learn a lot, she’s going to grow as a player, but she is also going to get the minutes.”
Massimini hopes to continue creating havoc in the midfield in college.
“I definitely love playing midfield because all my friends and coaches say I’m good at running, so I play best there and excel best there and I also like playing the whole field,” she said. “I like being able to be a leader on the field and help take part in winning.”
She helped the 7-9 Comets win a regional championship before falling to Northern, 14-11, in the state quarterfinals.
“My favorite memory was definitely making it to where we did in states because my team during the beginning of the year was a little rough, but as we all got to know each other and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses we came together,” she said. “We made it pretty far in states and I’m very proud of us for doing that.”
The Comets also lost a close game to Baltimore County champion Hereford, 14-10, and enjoyed a 13-10 victory over Arundel.
“It was very fun and it was a very competitive game and we all fought to the end,” Massimini said of the Arundel win. “That’s what we needed to do as a team. Even if we won or lost a game, it doesn’t matter as long as we worked our best and just gave it our all.”
Massimini played three years of varsity basketball for the Comets and lost one season because of COVID.
She played shooting guard and point guard, but wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint with taller girls.
“She played much bigger than she is. She was one of our better rebounders,” Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said. “In any game she played, she was going full tilt. She didn’t go half speed or three quarters.”
She also wasn’t afraid to launch a three-pointer from anywhere on the court.
“I would say to her all the time ‘You’ve never met a shot you didn’t like,’” Mohler recalled.
Assistant coach Mark Valderas compared her to her dad, Mark, who was a prolific shooter at Cardinal Gibbons.
He played on the 1974-75 Gibbons team that finished 26-4 and won the Alhambra Catholic Tournament and the 1973-74 team that won the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament. They were coached by the late Ray Mullis and featured standouts Rob Valderas and Norman Black.
Massimini attributes her energizer-bunny attitude in all sports to her father.
“That has always been me and that was also my dad, he was also a multi-sport athlete in high school and this is just how I’ve been as an athlete, I’ve always been athletic, very active,” she said.
One of the biggest wins of the season came against eventual Baltimore County champion Hereford.
“We were the only Baltimore County team to beat Hereford and we beat them at Hereford,” Mohler said. “That was a huge win and I always say that was our best game of the year.”
Massimini earned All-Division first team Baltimore County honors and was on the Baltimore County All-Academic team.
Teammate and leading scorer Ashley Dickey was an All-County first team player who shared the backcourt with Massimini and Mohler admired their chemistry.
“The nice thing was she and Ashley worked together, they would switch positions on their own and they had the full right to do it,” he said. “That’s really nice when you’ve got two seniors in synch like that and we were a tough team to press when you’ve got two guards that can handle the ball.”
Massimini admitted Mohler was tough on the team at times, but she was determined to improve.
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“He was a challenge, but it was just a matter of handling him or not,” she said. “He made me a better athlete.”
On the soccer field, Massimini flashed her speed and toughness for first-year coach Melissa Vega-Wynn.
“Marisa was actually one of the most aggressive and hungry players that we had up in that striker position,” Vega-Wynn said. “She was a huge asset to the team in that regard and was one of the leading scorers.”
Vega-Wynn estimated she took between 15-20 shots and scored two goals and had two assists. She was also named the team’s Most Improved Player.
“Marisa came out like a fireball, but needed some technique refining, but between her dribbling and her striking, she certainly bridged those gaps between the front and the back end of the season,” Vega-Wynn said.
The coach wishes she had more players with her determination.
“Every coach needs one or two of those super hungry players that you put in and you know she is going to mix it up in there,” she said. “At minimum, she is just going to make it frustrating for the defense because she is so feisty. She is not the biggest, but she is one of the fastest and one of the strongest.”