April 26, 2002
In many ways senior Monique Marier (Clearwater, FL) is your typical power hitter. After leading the nation in home runs as junior college player at Lake City Community College in 1999, Marier came to Florida State and displayed the same power at the Division I level in her first season. In 2000, the outfielder led the team in home runs (6), RBIs (41), almost broke a single season record for doubles (14) and led the squad with a .543 slugging percentage. She also accumulated a few strikeouts.
“I would say I am a power hitter because that would help explain the amount of strikeouts I had,” said Marier while laughing. “Power hitters are supposed to strikeout, right?”
Despite her gaudy numbers as a junior, Marier is tough on herself and has struggled with not being able to meet the personal goals she set when she came to FSU. She feels like she often gets down and that just makes matters worse.
“I set some team and individual goals when I came here and as well as we have done as a team; I really feel I fell short of some of the things I wanted to accomplish as an individual,” Marier said.
“I never really looked at my stats so I had no idea what I accomplished as a junior. I hate worrying about stats. I want to just have fun out there and I try to remember that once something has happened, you just let it go. You can’t change the past but I wasn’t always able to do that.”
You wouldn’t know that by looking at Marier’s numbers. This season, she is second on the team with five home runs, just one shy of her team-leading total last year, third in RBIs (28), second in doubles (eight) and fourth in slugging percentage (.435). Despite the fact that Marier is already fifth all-time for career home runs at FSU in less than two seasons, she still feels like she isn’t playing up to her capabilities and staying positive was a struggle for the senior.
“I don’t think I am having the type of senior season I wanted,” said Marier. “Everyone thinks about what they want to do personally in their final season and I haven’t lived up to my goals. To reach my personal goals I have to hit better than I am currently, at least according to my own expectations. Dealing with my confidence at the plate is a huge struggle for me. I would much rather be consistent and I haven’t felt that way at all. I feel that I am so up and down.
“I used to let it really get me down. I try to let it roll of my back these days. I don’t dwell on it and I try to focus my thoughts on the positive and get away from the negatives as quickly as I can.”
Her new, and more positive attitude has developed over the last month and is due to the near-fatal accident suffered by her mother at the end of March. Marier’s mother, who lives in Tennessee, was horseback riding when a dog ran in front of her and startled the horse. She was thrown on to the concrete and landed on her head. The resulting skull fracture and blood clot sent her into a coma.
After watching her mom lying in a hospital bed, strike outs didn’t seem that important to Marier.
“That was very scary,” Marier said. “It was really hard going to see her in Tennessee and she is lying there. It was just such a relief that she survived and could remember who I was when she came out of it.”
Her mother is still recuperating from the accident and she still hasn’t recovered use of her short-term memory. Marier left school immediately to be at her side for as long as she was needed.
“She raised me and I was willing to put everything on hold to go and help her. That is what I did and I may have to go back and be there for her after graduation and the season,” she said. “Things are headed in a very positive direction thankfully right now.
“I was so fortunate that my coaches and teachers were so understanding. Everybody told me to be there for my mom and we will find a way to work everything else out. It was such a relief that there was so much support for me. That helped ease the stress of a very stressful situation.”
The accident changed Marier’s outlook on life and helped her to focus in on what matters and what doesn’t. When it comes to the health of her family, a strikeout doesn’t seem as significant as it did just a month ago.
“Before my mom’s accident, I would stress out about the littlest most insignificant things,” Marier recalls. “I would worry about striking out or a bill that I would have to pay but those things mean nothing when it comes to my mom’s health. Everything is in perspective now and it took my mom almost dying to make that happen. It is so much easier now to realize that softball is important but it isn’t everything.”
With her mom on the road to recovery, Marier’s newfound perspective is showing on the field, as she seems to be more at ease. After a 1-for-6 outing in a doubleheader sweep over Georgia Tech, Marier didn’t get down. She bounced back immediately and in the next two series against rivals Florida and North Carolina she hit .385, slugged 1.000, had two doubles, two home runs, scored two runs and knocked in six RBIs. In the last 10 games since her mother’s near-fatal accident, Marier is hitting .310 and she has more doubles, home runs and RBIs over that stretch than anyone on the team. And in 29 at bats she has just three strikeouts.
Her new approach to the game, and life was never more evident than last week as the Seminoles took on defending ACC Champion UNC. After winning game one with a RBI single in extra innings, Marier completed her big day in the second game of the twin bill. She launched a blast over the wall in right center in the sixth-inning and the three-run homer extended FSU to a 9-5 lead. North Carolina came back to load the bases in the top of the seventh in a bid to tie the game. With two outs, Erica Ennis sent a deep shot to left field that fell inches shy of clearing the fence and tying the game. Marier, tracking the ball all the way to the wall, crashed into the outfield fence as she made the catch and ended the game for FSU.
Marier’s newfound perspective was evident as she battered the defending ACC Champion Tar Heels last week.
In the sweep of UNC, she hit .571, had two doubles, a home run, knocked in five RBIs, slugged 1.286 and scored a run.
“I didn’t even realize that I hit a three-run homer in that game until you just mentioned it,” said Marier while smiling. “The catch in the top of the seventh was nice for me since I got into the habit lately of running into fences and sometimes I held on to the ball and other times I didn’t. I have taken out a few temporary fences in my day. I started to develop a little bit of apprehension when I had to make a difficult catch near the fence or wall. There were a couple of difficult catches that I expected myself to make but didn’t.
“That play against UNC, I just played the ball and didn’t think about it. I just went after it and made the play. It felt really good and boosted my confidence. I felt like I was back to playing defense to the standard I set for myself.”
Even though Marier is doing a lot better at avoiding putting undue pressure on herself, a lot of the pressure she felt early on stemmed from being a junior college transfer. Being a ‘juco’ transfer is a unique experience and it is natural to try and cram four years worth of experiences in to just four semesters. Sometimes the goals that junior college transfers set for themselves just aren’t realistic when you only have two seasons to try to accomplish them.
“It is hard walking in as junior because by that time things have really stabilized for most juniors, you are changing schools and moving to a different city,” remembers Marier. “You come to a team that is pretty much already in place and join a class that has been together for two full years already so there are some challenges.”
The adjustment to life at Florida State was as smooth as possible according to Marier. She couldn’t recall any particular problems she had when she came to Tallahassee from Lake City. Marier credits that to her teammates.
“I really didn’t have a hard time adjusting,” she remembers. “Junior college is good preparation for what I have faced since I have been here so it was really a smooth transition for me. It wasn’t that big of a change and my friends on this team were a big reason for that. After a short period of time, they made me feel like I’d been with them every step of the way.”
If she had one big worry when she came to FSU, it wasn’t the class work or facing better pitching or evening making new friends. Marier’s biggest worry was bonding with her teammates, which is an important part of being a student athlete.
The junior college transfer’s fears about bonding with her teammates were quickly laid to rest.
Despite being accepted with open arms as a teammate, it is another thing to feel like you are a part of the senior class when you haven’t been there for all of the ups and downs. On the 2002 Seminole softball team, four of the five seniors have been together since day one, four years ago. The fifth is Marier.
“I don’t always feel like I am truly part of the senior class and that isn’t anybody’s fault,” said Marier. “The seniors went through things for two full years before I got here so I can understand if they share things that I wasn’t a part of. They have put in so much more time here but I hope they think of me as a part of their senior class.”
Marier has had some struggles and some great success in her two years at FSU but she has never had a regret about her decision to transfer to Tallahassee. When she was ready to move on after her time at Lake City, Marier narrowed down her choices to Florida and Florida State. She had visited Florida as a high school senior and realized this time around that what she was looking for as a freshman wasn’t what she was looking for as a junior.
“When I was making my decision, I really took into account the stability of the coaching staff,” said Marier. “I was down to FSU and Florida and I knew how stable the staff was here and that there were rumors about the coaches at UF not being around, which eventually did happen. I wanted to have the same coaches considering I was only going to have a couple of years at whichever school I chose.
“I had been on recruiting trips and I knew better than to just look at the show a school puts on. Florida would make a locker up for you with your jersey and stuff like that but I knew to look past that. I looked to the coaches, the players and the quality of the program. I have been happy with my decision.”
The left fielder has never regretted her decision to come to FSU.
With less than a month left in her collegiate career, Marier still has some things she would like to accomplish and more importantly, is looking towards the stretch run with confidence and a positive outlook. That is something that may not have been the case before March 27th.
“On a personal level, I think things will turn around and I will make a big contribution down the stretch,” said a confident Marier. “I can help this team over this last month when things really count. I have never won a conference title so that is one of my main goals right now. We need to finish really strong and make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. That is important to me.”
The way Marier has been playing as of late, she has already gone a long way towards accomplishing that goal.