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Mary Marshall spent 40 years coaching youth sports, ever since graduating from high school in the early 1950s.
A single mother, Marshall, who found herself divorced at an early age, raised 7 children on her own, which in itself is no small accomplishment.
“And they all went to college,” she said with well-deserved pride.
Marshall, who was quite athletic herself, had a passion for sports at an early age, coaching softball, soccer and baseball even before graduating from the Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville in 1952.
“There was no high school for African-Americans in Henry County, where I was from, so I went there,” she said. “At that time, it was segregated, and I was not allowed to go to a white high school.”
But Marshall was determined to succeed in her dream of coaching young people and getting youth sports leagues established for them, in spite of both racial and gender-related issues along the way.
“It was a rough road as a non-white person and female,” she said. “But I always told my kids, if you’re a crybaby, you’ll never win. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for a million dollars.”
Marshall coached at Daniel Field and at the Stratton Field and “just all over town,” she said with a chuckle.
She has coached her own children along with thousands of others, with was a grand experience, she said.
“Some say you shouldn’t coach your own kids, but it was very rewarding for me.”
Marshall, 77, who still coaches tee-ball, said she really values the guidance and support of Parks and Recreationb Director Clay Cottongim.
“We agree to disagree,” she said, laughing.
On a serious note, she said the support of parents also means a lot:
“Parents who support their children’s sports activities have their best interests at heart.”