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Mari-Rae was on her way to a new, yet familiar, life on September 11. She was moving to Santa Barbara, California, where she had accepted the position of head coach of women’s gymnastics at UCSB. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for someone who had never lost her love of the sport.

An All-American
At William Fremd High School, Mari-Rae was honored as the outstanding senior gymnast in Illinois in 1984.




Mari-Rae was a former Palatine (Illinois) Gym Club gymnast and was coached by Sandy Oldham, Terry Theobald, and Jayne Morava.

Mari-Rae strived for a goal throughout her four years on the William Fremd High School (Palatine) team: She pushed team members to accomplish their best and led by example. The team went from a losing season during her freshman year to second in the state her junior and senior years. Her leadership inspired both her teammates and her coach, Larry Petrillo. To this day, Petrillo said during her memorial service, “When I sit down to make up the lineup, she’s always there . . . I hear her voice.”

Mari-Rae was named Fremd High School’s Athlete of the Year and Illinois Outstanding Senior Gymnast of the Year. Academically, Mari-Rae excelled as an Illinois State Scholar and a National Merit Semifinalist.
A Total Cyclone

Mari-Rae went on to Iowa State University and graduated with a degree in Exercise Science. She competed all-around for four years on the Iowa State Women’s Gymnastics team coached by Mike Sharples. Through her incredible determination and hard work, Mari-Rae received an athletic scholarship for her final three years, after walking on the team as a freshman. She was voted Iowa State’s Most Valuable Gymnast in her senior year.


Performing as an Iowa State Cyclone, where she walked on to the team as a freshman.


She floored us: Mari-Rae was well known for her beautifully choreographed floor routines.

She beamed with pride: Mari-Rae’s work ethic was well-recognized. It was that spirit of striving for “unobtainable perfection” that led her to accept the challenge at UCSB.



Carrying On A Dream

After leaving Iowa State, Mari-Rae received a master’s degree in athletic administration from North Texas and a law degree from University of Denver College of Law.

Mari-Rae had been an assistant coach and choreographer for the U.S. Naval Academy’s women’s gymnastics team before taking the job at University of California at Santa Barbara. She also served as a graduate assistant at the University of Denver for one year, as the floor exercise coach and choreographer for the Colorado Gymnastics Institute for three years, and as a Junior Olympic gymnastics coach in Dallas.

Mari-Rae had recently attended an ISU gymnasts reunion.



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