June 30, 1998
AUSTIN, Texas — Maria “Mara” Toole, a swimmer for the Florida State
Lady Seminoles, was honored at an awards luncheon sponsored by the
National Association of Academic Advisors (N4A) at their annual convention
on June 14, 1998. Toole was one of only eight student athletes across the
country to earn the N4A Achievement Award, given to student-athletes who
have overcome great personal, academic or emotional odds to achieve
academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.
During her freshman year at Florida State, Toole developed what she
believed was a cyst on her shoulder. After having the shoulder checked by
doctors, she was struck with the news that the mass was actually a rare
form of cancer called “Ewing’s Sarcoma,” which usually originates in the
bone. More extenxive testing indicated more tumors – this time in her
lungs – and so began Toole’s struggle for a second chance at life. During
intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Toole continued to pursue
her academic goal and enrolled in nine hours of coursework at a junior
college near her Tampa home. The treatment took a toll on her, both
physically and emotionally, but she kept fighting.
“My love for my sport, my team, and the athletic department at
Florida State provided me with the burning desire and competitive rage to
beat the odds,” said Toole.
Toole is currently in remission and has returned to FSU in top
form. During the 1997-98 academic year, Toole, the captain of the swim
team, was a representative to the Student-Athlete Advisory Council,
maintained a 3.0 GPA and was named to the Dean’s List and the ACC Honor
“By Majoring in Child and Family Services, I hope to pass on the
knowledge I have gained, through my experiences as a student-athlete and
cancer patient, to the children and their loved ones that I will work
with,” said Toole, who will graduate from FSU next year.