On a warm afternoon in mid-June, Mary Ella Marion sat in her office at Mercy High School, Baltimore, flanked by two of her three children, Maggie, a rising junior at Mercy, and Matt, a recent graduate from Salisbury University. They were wrapping up a morning session from the weeklong Mercy Magic Summer Basketball Camp for girls, each with specific roles as members of Marion’s staff.
Marion, a 25-year veteran coach and teacher, has faced a myriad of challenges over the years but has always found a way to teach, inspire and motivate her students and her players. This past year, Marion experienced a unique challenge by coaching Maggie on the Magic’s varsity basketball team.
For Maggie, who is remembered by some senior faculty as a toddler with dark curly hair making her way around the school a dozen years ago, has since grown into her lean athletic frame, confident, yet humble, in her presentation.
Maggie has made her mark not only on the basketball court but as a member of the high school volleyball team, has played years of youth soccer, lacrosse, softball and has even taken up golf, playing a few rounds with her brother Matt and father, Rich.
“Without a doubt, playing on the varsity team has definitely made us closer,” said Maggie. “We spend every day together, and I think we have rubbed off on each other.”
Maggie made the varsity squad this past season as a sophomore yet had no real expectations to see much playing time. She knew she would have to pay her dues and work very hard.
“I am ready to play when my time comes,” said Maggie. “And more than anything, I want to support my mom in whatever decisions she makes. I just want to be there to help the team.”
And “team” is what it’s all about for Mary Ella Marion; a message that resonates with her family as well as the young women she coaches. “I want to instill the value of “team” in all kids. It begins and ends right there.”
It’s a great mother-daughter relationship, but Mary Ella Marion is eager to point out that on the court, it’s “coach” first and “parent” second as Marion also coaches Maggie’s AAU team, the Baltimore Furies.
Despite the role delineation, Maggie states, “My mom is there is to build me up when I’m down, and she’s there to keep me level-headed.”
In a family that stays connected by their love for sports and their love for each other, Mary Ella’s children come away winners by virtue of the lessons learned and the support received.
“My mom has had a great effect on me and my teaching style,” said Matt Marion. “Along with her enthusiasm and her ability to reach kids on different levels, she always reminds us about the importance of having a passion for whatever you want to do.”