Brookline High grad took her game to great heights at Yale

Yale athletics

Brookline’s Maya Midzik played an integral role in three Ivy League titles for the women’s volleyball team at Yale.

By Marvin Pave Globe Correspondent 

Maya Midzik has gone to great heights on and off the volleyball court.

A 6-foot middle blocker from Brookline, she led the Yale University women’s volleyball team with 88 total blocks in her final college season, utilizing her jumping ability, reflexes and quick lateral movement.


A geology/geophysics and English major, Midzik reached much greater heights the past two summers. Two years ago, she worked at an independent ecology research project at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado, living at 10,000 feet for 10 weeks. Last year, she flew at 30,000 feet as part of a NASA research program in California, collecting air samples and analyzing satellite data.

Midzik received Yale’s Kiphuth Student-Athlete Distinction Award prior to graduating last month. She was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist and an academic all-district and academic All-Ivy L

Yale athletics

Maya Midzik of Brookline: 88 blocks as a senior.

eague selection.

“Maya loves learning, absorbs everything and is always focused in the moment,’’ said Yale head coach Erin Appleman of her four-year starter. “She’s also one of the best athletes I have ever worked with and a leader who our younger players looked up to. I just think the world of her.’’

An All-Ivy honorable mention last season and a second-team all-league choice her junior year, Midzik was the first Bay State recruit for Appleman, who has been on the Yale sideline for 13 seasons.


The 22-year-old Midzik played an integral part of three Ivy League titles and a runnerup finish last season. At Brookline High, she was a two-time volleyball team captain and MVP. She also starred for the Newton-based SMASH Volleyball Club that won the New England regionals and qualified for junior nationals in 2012.

Q. What did the ecology research project entail?

A. I was measuring and analyzing alpine plant populations and how they change and shift in response to water availability and climate conditions . We lived in cabins and I spent a lot of time hiking and camping in order to access remote sites.

Q. What are your future plans?

A. This summer, I’ll be working again with NASA at their Ames Research Center in California. I’ll be a team leader working on a project that uses satellite imagery to analyze air quality. I’ll be starting my fulltime job in August as a strategist with a tech company in San Francisco.

Q. How does one maintain a 3.93 GPA while playing a varsity sport?

A. I kept a color-coded calendar and stuck to it. I was sometimes a better student during the season because I knew we had a four-hour practice every day which made me even more disciplined and organized.

Q. Where did you learn to play volleyball?

A. I had played soccer from age 3 to 13 and decided I wanted a new athletic challenge going into high school. I went to two volleyball camps before my freshman year and loved the jumping, the fast pace and the flow of the game.

Q. What is the feeling of helping your team with a solid block?

A. It’s my favorite moment on the court . You know you’ve shut down the other team and protected your side of the net. It’s instinctive.

Q. You were a participant in the Yale College Poets reading as a junior. What poems did you choose?


A. “Hold On,’’ and “That First Night in Santa Fe,’’ based on my travels in the Southwest and originally written for my creative writing course.

Q. When did you travel the Southwest and why did you find that inspiring?

A. After my junior year of high school when I fell in love with the landscape of New Mexico and Southern Utah. And last summer, I hiked the national parks in the Four Corners area with my mom and stepfather.

Q. How did your SMASH coaches, Gary Patch and Fabian Ardila, influence your development?

A. They helped me see my potential. Our teams were also entered in national tournaments which exposed me to a higher level of volleyball and made me want to play at the Division 1 level in college.

Q. How did you acquire your love for learning?

A. From my family. My parents encouraged me to explore all my interests and to challenge myself. I also had amazing teachers in the Brookline public schools. Even when I was little, I loved reading field guides, walking around my neighborhood and identifying trees and animals.