Sisters Host Olympic Cheering Party for Alumna Fencer Mariel Zagunis
Submitted by Alumni and Donor Relations Associate Grace Le Chevallier
What were you doing at 5 a.m. today? While many throughout the city of Beaverton were still sleeping, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon were preparing the Convent conference room for a gathering to cheer on Olympic athlete Mariel Zagunis ’03 in her individual women’s sabre fencing competition.
Among those who gathered was KXL Reporter Pat Boyle Mann ’73, who joined a group of Sisters at 5 a.m. and turned in reports every half hour. Also at the Convent to support Mariel was her childhood soccer coach Dick Cartwright, who had heard the KXL report and drove to the Convent to join in on the action. He said that he could tell that Mariel was different from other players even at a young age, “She was more zeroed in and tougher than any of the boys,” he said.
Another unexpected visitor was Pat Dooris, reporter for KGW Channel 8, and a cameraman. They happened upon the party after VCS President Bob Weber saw his tweet, “Anyone in the greater Portland area watching Mariel Zagunis compete live? We’d like to join you!” The call was made and KGW arrived within 30 minutes!
Mariel’s first competition began at 5:10 a.m. PST with a win, followed with another win at 6:45 a.m. that narrowed the competitors to only eight. The Sisters took a break after Mariel’s first two bouts for morning Mass. After Mass, Sisters and friends enjoyed coffee and donuts and Mariel’s victories.
At 10:30 a.m., the room was again buzzing for Mariel’s semifinal competition. Sisters, Maryville Residents, Valley Catholic Early Learning School preschoolers, Mariel’s former teachers and campus employees filled the conference room. Mariel had a tough competition against South Korea’s Kim Jiyeon. Mariel led by 3-0, 6-1 and 12-5. Jiyeon changed her strategy and pulled ahead with a 15-13 win. Jiyeon later moved forward to take the sabre gold.
At 11:40 a.m., the Convent conference room once again filled with fans cheering for Mariel in the bronze medal competition. Mariel’s competition continued to be tough, however, and she succumbed to Ukrainian Olga Kharlan in the fight for the bronze medal, 15-10.
The entire SSMO campus community is very proud of Mariel. We are thrilled to call her an alumna and she continues to be an inspiration to us all to strive for excellence.
For further reading on Mariel’s Olympic matches, click here to see an article published in the Washington Post’s online news.