Maura Verleg and Rayne Wright are most well-known for being co-captains of the No. 3 Maryland field hockey team. But when they’re not playing, the best friends have a relationship founded on Love Island and Marathon Deli.
Verleg transferred from New Hampshire and joined the team in 2020 as a sophomore, the same year Wright joined the squad as a freshman from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The unique 2020 season, restricted by COVID-19, left the new players with few opportunities to bond.
Verleg and Wright found their escape in Wright’s dorm room in Kent Hall, where Verleg often visited and the duo bonded over reality TV show Love Island.
“I feel like with Rayne I can really be myself,” Verleg said. “Whenever I spend time with her it’s not costing me energy at all. I can be myself. We can even sit in silence for hours and it’s not awkward and I think that’s awesome.”
The bonding did not end at reality TV. Both players were transitioning to new positions on defense for the Terps, so they learned to work on the backline together and built a strong defensive unit that helped Maryland earn two shutouts in the first three games of the 2023 season.
This year, Verleg and Wright’s preferred place to spend time together became Marathon Deli, which they visit around twice per week. Verleg orders a gyro and Wright opts for a sub, and they share a box of fries soaked in the deli’s signature Marathon Sauce.
“We would always go to Marathon together,” Verleg said. “We get fries and a whole meal and sit there for literally hours. And now the owner, he knows us, so everytime we go there it’s like ‘Oh, you guys are back.’”
The chemistry that developed off the field easily transitioned onto it. Verleg and Wright have now played together for the past three seasons including consecutive trips to the Final Four. Most recently, they were named captains together.
The duo now works to help Maryland’s younger players form similar friendships. This year, many players live in the same off-campus apartment complex. With grills on the complex’s roof, Wright and Verleg hosted a cookout for their teammates before the season.
“During preseason my apartment probably had like 20 of us in there at one point, like three times out of the week just either watching movies, piercing each other’s ears, painting nails, anything that keeps us together,” Wright said. “We have a good time.”
While a competitive spirit and history of success may define Maryland, team bonding activities, pregame rituals and a close knit community are a significant part of the team. Led by Verleg and Wright, the 3-0 Terps return to action Friday at home to battle Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Cup Friday.
“Just having my bestest friend in the world off the field be my best co-captain, person to work with, leadership group partner is the best thing that could have ever happened,” Wright said.