“I have never called her Gina once in my life,” said senior Tessa Lyons, a good friend of Suarez-Malaguti.
“It’s really funny when people call her Gina and I have to process that they are talking about Pichi.”
For most of the UNC team, Pichi’s departure will be a more difficult change than her transition from player to coach was for her former teammates. Junior Caroline Price said that the fall season with Pichi as a coach took a little bit of time to get used to.
“I really enjoyed her as a coach. It took a while to adjust to it at first, but I liked it,” Price said. “I’m really going to miss her. It’s going to be weird not having her around because she has been (here) constantly since I’ve gotten here. I haven’t really been here without her.“
Though the Tar Heels will miss a part of their team, coach Brian Kalbas said that he is happy for Suarez-Malaguti and the opportunities ahead of her.
“She got a great opportunity at Maryland, it’s a great school and a great program,” Kalbas said. “The coach is doing a good job, so we are excited for Pichi to get that opportunity.”
The team will travel to Charlottesville, Va., this weekend to defend their title as ITA National Indoor Champions. Pichi played an integral part of winning that title. Lyons said that she thinks Pichi will continue to play a role in her senior year, whatever the circumstances are.
“I know she will be following us and be really excited to see where we end up and how finish the season,” said Lyons, who was emotional discussing Suarez-Malaguti’s departure. “We will miss her, but I’m super happy for her.”
The next time the two will see each other will be April 13, when UNC faces off against Maryland in Chapel Hill, an event Lyons said she is looking forward to.
“I am so excited to see her in the future,” Lyons said. “It’s only fitting that my senior day is when we play Maryland. Even though she will be coaching against me, she’ll be there.”