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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Bigger than basketball

Senior Avery Marz tattooed the date of her stroke on her left shoulder (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Avery Marz’s recovery and return inspires many

At just 17 years old, women’s basketball guard and current senior Avery Marz overcame a hardship that most people couldn’t even imagine experiencing in their lifetime. Marz’ world changed on Aug. 23, 2014 when she suffered a stroke while moving onto campus as a freshman at St. Joe’s.

“I kind of got an argument going on with my mom about my clothes and the closet space,” Marz said. “Then, she told me to help put up the fridge. My knee gave out so I went to sit on the bed to put my legs up and it was like a gust of wind hit me from my left side and pushed me off my bed. At that point I realized that I couldn’t move my left side.”

This moment prompted a mental and physical recovery process lasting three years. Marz’s bravery and ability to overcome adversity sparked national attention; however, this did not come without difficulty.

“Everyday in the beginning was a struggle,” Marz said. “I was reminded that I was paralyzed or that I can’t move this or I can’t do that. I couldn’t take classes and I couldn’t be the normal college freshman that I wanted and planned to be. I can pinpoint one moment when I saw a video of myself running during the recovery process. I never saw myself look so slow and uncoordinated. It was scary, I was sad and it was really a moment of ‘Wow that’s really what I look like and will I ever look any different.’”

Without basketball, Marz would not have had the same level of motivation throughout her recovery. The sport set the tone for her to get back to action.

“Basketball in general set me up to be goal seeking,” Marz said. “As an athlete, you’re always working towards a new goal and trying to better yourself. I think just having that mindset to begin with really helped with my recovery and two, just never being satisfied.”

Marz drew inspiration from her mother throughout the recovery process as a critical part of a larger support system. Teammates also played a significant role by simply working hard on the court.

“My mom was a huge part of my recovery and really kept me grounded through the entire process,” Marz said. “There were a lot of difficult times and she was around for most of them. Also, just seeing my team work hard and accomplish drills, seeing them win games inspired me to keep going.”

While certain individuals inspired her to recover, Marz herself acted as a huge inspiration for other people. This is especially true for women’s basketball head coach Cindy Griffin.

“She inspires me everyday,” Griffin said. “She is an example of somebody who has had a hardship, somebody that has come back. Something was taken away from her and she’s worked her way back and it’s inspiring.”

Marz wants to use her experiences over the past three years to become a role model for other people. Teaching and influencing others is important to her and something that she wants to pursue.

“I think as I get older and mature I’ll be able to be a better role model, but I definitely want to be able to help and influence people,” Marz said. “Whether it’s people who are survivors of stroke or others, I hope I can influence other people to keep working hard and not give up.”

Marz wants to leave a lasting impression on St. Joe’s, and Griffin believes that she’s already done so.

“She’ll go away with people wanting to be like her,” Griffin said.

By the time she graduates, Marz wants the people at St. Joe’s to see her as a leader. She is serving as a captain this season for her team.

“I think as a leader you can do a lot of things,” Marz said. “You can influence people, you can help people, guide people and teach them. I’d also like to be known as someone who truly did just enjoy life. I think it’s big just to be happy with each day.”

Marz looks to continue a strong season with the Hawks after her debut on Nov. 12 against Niagara University. She will take advantage of another year of eligibility next season while pursuing an MBA at St. Joe’s.

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