We caught up with Salpointe senior forward Reilly Marks and asked her to comment on her dream to play Division I soccer and all the struggles and obstacles that got in her way but couldn’t stop her.
Relatively unknown in high school circles due to a transfer her junior year, Marks came on strong for Salpointe in what turned out to be a dream season for the Lancers, a 23-2 record, a top seed in the state playoffs and a runner-up finish.
It was hard not to notice her play on the field and the rest of the media slowly started to catch on also. She earned All-Southern Arizona First Team status and was a D-II Player of the Year.
You have to actually go to matches to see the teams, the players, the strategy and what the coaches are attempting to do. Box scores are only part of the story and Marks has an incredible one. Her effort in the state championship was more than evident to those who witnessed the game.
In her words:
“My family and I were presented with some devastating news in December of my junior year – my grandpa was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. That was so hard for me, he was my number one fan, he came to almost every single game. I played for him.
High school had just ended and I was so excited to play again, since I wasn’t able to because I had transferred to Salpointe Catholic. It was around the time of New Mexico States ID camp. Of course I was nervous, but after the camp had ended Freddy (Delgado), the NMSU head coach, had offered me a scholarship. I was so excited, it had been my dream ever since I was a kid to play Division I soccer.
The next week we had an NPL game in Phoenix. It was against New Mexico Rush. I was actually playing defense for this game because we had no subs. I took a corner kick and the ball came back to me, while the defender from Rush ran into my knee. I heard a pop and it was the worst pain I had ever been in. Needless to say I tore my MCL.
Devastated, I had to tell Freddy knowing that he would have to see what my recovery process would be. Meanwhile my grandpa’s cancer had grown. The next weekend, March 3rd to be exact, my grandma suffered a massive heart attack. Then, March 5th, my grandpa passed away.
I remember the last thing he told me was, “Don’t ever give up on your dreams, don’t let anything stand in your way.” If he hadn’t told me that I don’t know where I’d be today.
After a full year of work and training I am proud to say nothing stood in my way, and I did not give up on my dreams, because I gained back that scholarship and am able to say I have committed to play DI soccer for New Mexico State.”
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com