Marianna Mergerson: Moving from one family to the next
For your typical freshmen, making the move away from home to go to college is not always as easy as they would like, but then again, Mariana Mergerson is not your everyday freshman.
A top-25 recruit in all national recruiting rankings, and a Duncanville High School All-America standout, Mari (“Maudee”, as she is called by her teammates) is one of the seven new freshmen additions.
Even though Duncanville is only a three-hour drive down I-35 from Austin, Mari admits that it was a struggle at first to leave her home, family and her high school surroundings – but now realizes the positive nature of her decision.
“The transition has been different, but I like it. High school was so much easier in every aspect, of course, and I was used to my routine. Now, life at UT is pretty intense and it has taken some adjusting to get used to,” noted Mergerson.
Her family ties are quite apparent when you read her personal profile in the Texas media guide. When asked what was the one thing she wished she could bring to campus from her hometown, Mergerson answered with “my little sister Veronica”.
Not only has Mari had to deal with the typical issues of being a freshman, but she has the added stress of being a highly-recruited student-athlete in a Top 25 program while battling back from an ACL knee injury (summer of 2004) and subsequent surgery and rehabilitation.
“The rehab and trying to come back from my surgery in order to play at the level I know I am capable of playing at has been difficult,” admits Mari. “I am very tired of watching and am ready to get out on the court.”
It is that energy and drive that makes Mari such an asset to this year’s team. She is impatient to push herself like the other Longhorn rookies who are stepping up their game at an accelerated rate to fill the playing time vacated by the six seniors who graduated.
Success and excellence is something that Mergerson is used to being around, and she wants to be a part of UT’s success as soon as possible.
Mergerson, who says she wants to become a forensic pathologist or pediatric dentist, comes from a rich family tradition of college basketball players.
Both her parents, Laramie Sr. and Loretta Mergerson, played basketball at Midwestern State, and her mother holds the school single game rebounding record (28). Mergerson’s older brother, 6-8 Laramie, Jr., was a four-year letterwinner at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Mari knows that now is her time to shine and continue the family basketball legacy.
“It is my turn to do what I need to do,” she said. “My family always talks about basketball, watches basketball and goes to games. It is just one of the big ways we connect with each other.”
It is that tight family connection that has helped Mari as she makes her transition to college.
“Both my parents understand how hard the transition can be, and along with my brother, they have helped a lot,” confesses Mari.
So, with her natural talent, a positive attitude and a solid support system Mari is ready to prove that she can contribute as soon as she gets the full medical clearance to begin competing once again.
“I think our team chemistry is definitely developing. With practice, games and the different activities we take part in together off the court, we are definitely coming together and getting to know each other as people first and basketball players second. I cannot wait to be a big part of that on the court,” states Mari.
The upperclassmen have had a big influence on her development, and they provide a sense of comfort and encouragement to the young players.
“I know that they have been through a lot more than I can even imagine at this stage in my career. I know it is realistic to listen to them because they know what they are talking about,” says Mari.
Mari approaches her rehab challenge with the utmost respect and gratitude and says, “It is an honor to be a part of one of the best teams in the NCAA and play against some of the best female athletes in the nation. We have so much to look forward to.”
And the Texas coaches eagerly look forward to what Mergerson will bring to the court.
Associate head coach Karen Aston, in charge of working with post players, says that “Mari has an incredibly soft touch around the rim for a freshman along with the ability to score in several spots with multiple moves.”
“I think the sky is the limit for Mari,” Aston noted. “The time we have spent with her on the court shows that she has a really good understanding of the game as a freshman. If she works hard and gets herself back into a position to contribute on a daily basis, she has the ability to do wonders because she has a God-given shot, good offensive skills and the ability to do a lot on the court.”