Leaving a legacy

After a rainy Sunday tripleheader at Erv Lind Stadium, it was time to thank the woman who has guided PSU softball for the last 29 years. Teri Mariani played for the Vikings for four years before accepting the head coaching position in 1977, when she was told to take the program and “run with it.” She’s been running things ever since.

The numbers on Mariani are impressive. She has coached 1237 games and has earned 660 victories in her time at PSU. She led four teams to national tourneys before the current Vikings roster was born.

Mariani’s teams have made the postseason nine times and she has outlasted seven athletic directors. In 1991 Portland State softball finished ranked third nationally.

After the Vikings’ 2-5 loss to Sacramento State in the final game of the three-game set, the Oregon Sports Hall of Famer was honored in a ceremony on the field. Athletic Director Tom Burman summed up Mariani’s impact. “Teri is Portland State,” Burman said.

Congresswoman Darlene Hooley also addressed the crowd. “I wish I could say everything Teri learned she learned from me,” Hooley said. “But she did it on her own.”

To honor Mariani, Hooley made statements on the U.S. House of Representatives floor, preserving Mariani’s legacy in a unique manner.

Viking football head coach Tim Walsh is now the longest-tenured head coach with 13 years at Portland State. Walsh developed a strong relationship with Mariani after she mistook him for another candidate when he was interviewing for the Viking job.

“It’s all about helping players to achieve all of their goals,” Walsh said. “She’s a tremendous person who represents class and dignity.”

Mariani was reflective as she spoke to the crowd, holding back emotion as well as she could. “It’s only appropriate we had rain,” she joked. Mariani thanked all the fans and Viking boosters she has encountered in her time at PSU, 33 years in total.

“I need to thank PSU,” she said. “They took a chance on me.” Many boosters, fans and faculty have tried to convince Mariani to forgo retirement, but she said she is tired of missing family events and looks forward to making up for lost time.

Senior Kayla Lewis also publicly thanked Mariani, breaking down as she helped to honor the longtime fixture and face of Portland State athletics.

“She taught me to have confidence in myself,” Lewis said. “She made our program.”

As Mariani moves forward in her life, she leaves behind an impressive legacy at Portland State.

She wants to be remembered for “always putting the student athlete first.”

“She loves the game every single day,” said Mary Huluska, Mariani’s longtime assistant coach and close friend. “She’s been a teacher and a friend.”

“We all work together, it’s the PSU way,” Mariani said. “That’s why I’ve been here for 29 years.”