Athlete Spotlight: Chiara MacGillivray — family, Philly, free throws

Photo courtesy of Chiara MacGillivray

Christopher Dacanay
Sports Editor

Chiara MacGillivray has made three recent headlines on Franciscan University’s athletics page. She’s been under the spotlight due to her scoring exploits, topping basketball game stats with team-high shots made — 18, 22 and 26 points, most recently.

A slightly annoyed MacGillivray still wishes the athletics page would call her by her middle name, Chiara, rather than by her first name, Felicia, as she has asked them to do to no avail.

Regardless of what someone calls her, MacGillivray is No. 30 on the court. Off the court, she is a freshman human development and family studies major from Ardmore, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.

MacGillivray is a player on the Lady Barons softball team and the basketball team. On the basketball team, her position is shooting guard.

“I will play on the wing,” MacGillivray said, “and often be passed the ball for an open shot as opposed to going and creating that shot for myself. I’m also not down on the post … under the basket.”

As a freshman, this is MacGillivray’s first year on both teams. As MacGillivray’s basketball season winds to a close, her softball season will commence in mid-March.

“I have always really enjoyed having basketball season and then having a break from it with baseball,” MacGillivray said. “I know some of my basketball teammates are also on the softball team. I thought it would be a good time to learn a new sport and just have fun playing in the off-season.”

MacGillivray herself is sitting near the top of the basketball stats list. At the time of this writing, she is the leading scorer on the team with 226 total points. That includes 40 successful 3-pointers and 147 assists for 3-pointers. She has also played 20 games and started for all of them.

But MacGillivray does not want to take all of the credit. She said, “I get to start alongside players like Madison Doan — very tall, very talented. … Jazzlyn Melnyk, who’s a local; she’s so hard-working and also very strong, talented, always willing to pass the ball.

“Kimberly McDaniels — who’s one of the greatest people at the school — she’s always there, smiling, encouraging you, picking you up, leading you to have a better day. And then Lauren, Ilena and Ashley, … they’re very energetic and quick and bring a lot to the table athleticism-wise.

“We’ve been able to form pretty close relationships with each other on and off the court, especially when we had COVID; we were all in quarantine. My teammates who had recently gotten out of quarantine (made) sure to come down, bring us food and play games with us.”

In spite of the team’s season record currently sitting at 0-19, MacGillivray is still hopeful. She said the team has developed drastically, which will set them up for success in future seasons. Currently, they’re comprised of mostly freshmen and five sophomores.

Her favorite aspect of the team is the members’ competitiveness and drive. Also, her favorite memories have been the team’s bus rides, during which the players interact with positivity and energy and sing together.

MacGillivray said she has played basketball since she was in fifth grade and baseball since she was five years old. Although she was homeschooled up until college, she still played basketball for travel teams, the Amateur Athletic Union and for her local public high school, Haverford High School.

Prior to playing with Franciscan, MacGillivray has been named Offensive MVP, Second Team All-Central League, First Team All-Mainline and All-Delco Honorable Mention. She also served as the sports editor for Haverford High’s student newspaper, the Fordian.

She stopped playing baseball, which she had played since she was five years old, during her sophomore year of high school; however, she still finds time to coach at summer camps hosted by the Philadelphia Phillies and help out her younger siblings’ teams.

Speaking of siblings, MacGillivray is the oldest of eight siblings. Her father is Mountain MacGillivray, the head divisional women’s basketball coach at La Salle University. A busy man, Mountain MacGillivray makes sure to keep in contact with his daughter, occasionally driving from Philadelphia to see her play.

Family is important to Chiara MacGillivray. She chose human development and family studies because the major “would incorporate theological aspects (and) appeal to my interests in human relationships and psychology.”

“Faith, especially this year, has been very, very important to me,” Chiara MacGillivray said. “It was hard being away from home this first semester, and my (youngest sister Emily) was recently diagnosed with Leukemia in December.

“On my own, in Ohio, I have to rely on God to help me through every day. … Since I’m not connected to my family, I can be connected to them spiritually by praying for them every day and offering sacrifices.”

In spite of challenges on and off the court, Chiara MacGillivray is a smiling exemplar of perseverance. She asks those reading to pray for her sister Emily and to come to support Lady Barons basketball.

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