Sunday, October 22, 2006

Andrew Marshall: A Real Motivator

This kid, only a high school senior at the time of this interview, proved to me that hard work truly pays off. He's a true motivator.

Most Memorable Manager
Andrew Marshall overcame cerebral palsy to achieve athletic immortality at Marshall High School.
By BJ Koubaroulis
June 22, 2006

Andrew Marshall's biggest fear when he entered his freshman year at Marshall High School wasn't that his limp or his crooked right hand might make him a target. He didn't fear the stares or the questions about his cerebral palsy — a condition that was diagnosed at birth. Marshall worried about just one thing — that he wouldn't be remembered.
"Going into it, that was one of my biggest worries," said Marshall. "Working really hard and no one was going to notice me."
The 18-year-old graduate walked gracefully — limp and all — across the stage at Constitution Hall on Friday capping a four-year career at Marshall High School and did so as one of the school's most vital, memorable, and inspirational athletic figures without ever having recorded one statistic for any of the athletic teams he's loved and so passionately cared for. He never set any records or hit any game-winning shots or even dressed out once for the basketball, football, or baseball teams — all groups for which he was a team manager.
"It wasn't a wanting to play," said Marshall of why he spent over 40 hours per week as a team manager. "It was more of doing all the mental and emotional aspects of playing without playing. I wanted to match [the athletes] in every single aspect that I could."
And as Marshall High School's athletes' stats were recorded, varsity jackets were stitched with letters, and trophies were distributed to those that were deserving, Marshall's legacy was recorded in other ways. First, by the lives he touched and second, through one physical manifestation that will be logged in tradition at Marshall High School — the Andrew Marshall Award. The school's Director of Student Activities, Bill Curran noted that the award would be presented annually, by Andrew, to "the person who is most supportive of Marshall activities in a well-rounded way," said Curran. With out him, Marshall boys basketball coach Kevin Weeren said that "there is a big void in Marshall athletics now. He's a kid I'm going to miss just seeing. He gave that much energy, effort, commitment. He went everywhere with us. He gives everything of himself and asks really nothing in return."

MARSHALL GOT jump-started as a manager with the football team under former coach Pete Salvano and has spent two seasons with J.T. Biddison. He spent two years with the varsity basketball team after what he called "working his way up" through the freshmen and junior varsity teams.
"It was a [junior varsity] game and it was pouring rain on a Thursday night," remembered Biddison. "We are losing by three or four or five touchdowns, it's not even a close game. Half the guys, their heads were drooping, you looked over on the bench...Andrew is sitting on the bench with a rag fiercely getting the balls dry, like the game is coming down to the last play. There was 30 seconds left on the clock... I would love to have a whole team with guys working that hard. I don't think you would lose a football game."
He also spent his sophomore year with the baseball team.
"There were never any instances when I said this is a huge mistake," said Marshall, who used the opportunity to make friends — to be remembered. Marshall moved to Northern Virginia as a sixth grader at Oakton Elementary School before going to Luther Jackson Middle School.
"Sixth grade was the final grade of elementary school when all the bonds were already formed," said Marshall. "I really didn't get a good network of friends until freshman year."
The fact that he was different didn't help, but it didn't intimidate him.
In fact, Marshall never saw himself as disabled or different.
"I have a dominant hand and a dominant foot just like everyone else," said Marshall, whose right side is physically slower than his left side. "People can't write with both hands, that's why they are special that way. From that perspective, I'm just using a dominant hand and a dominant foot."
His insight and knowledge, he believes he's gained through having to "think outside the box" in order to overcome his physical limitations, has also helped him academically. He graduated with a grade point average that crept just above a 4.0.
"One of the things I learned from growing up is that 'This isn't going away,'" said Marshall as he pointed to the right side of his body. "You might as well just be the person you are and the people who like you are going to gravitate towards you and the people who don't like you aren't and you aren't going to be able to change that."
And how the athletes, coaches and administrators flocked to him.
"The big thing we use right now is small school, big heart," said Curran of the Falls Church-based school with one of the smallest student populations in the region. "There is no one who encompasses that more than Andrew. But if he could get out on the field, this would be that kid whose future would be limitless. And his future is limitless...there is no disability."

WHETHER IT WAS racing across the field to bring water to a player, or tape and injured player's ankle — Marshall was always there, always helping, always inspiring. "Pumping up balls, getting new balls, getting them in if they are wet, putting up pylons, putting up towels, putting up cleat-cleaners, making sure equipment is ready," said Marshall of his job description — a job he takes very seriously. Marshall's dedication is not something lost upon his teammates. "It shows us how privileged we are," said Jordan Culbreath — a senior who led the Statesmen to a 5-5 season on the football field. Culbreath was also a guard on the basketball team that made school history by breaking into the AAA semifinals this past March. "We know he wants to be out on the field with us," added Culbreath. Marshall will continue his job as a team manager when he heads to Northwestern University in early August. He is already signed up to be a team manager for the Wildcats football team. "I think one of the key things to gaining [the athletes's] support and respect, which has been great, is putting in as much time as they do," said Marshall. "Being the first one out, being the first one to start shooting around, and rebounding for the last one when they leave. Hustling for everything. You don't have to be good, but you can hustle."

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