Bainbridge High senior Sallie Marx has committed to play NCAA Division III lacrosse at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, Calif.
“It doesn’t seem real yet," Marx said. "It’s still sinking in.”
An All-State selection in 2013 for the Spartans, Marx will join a Pomona-Pitzer team next fall that finished 10-9 in 2013 after advancing to the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The team is coached by Sarah Queener, who is entering her third year at the helm for the Sagehens.
“(Coach Queener) is passionate about the game and cares a lot about her players,” Marx said. “She wants to see them succeed on and off the field. That’s something that I’m looking forward to.”
Marx said she is looking forward to becoming reacquainted with a number of graduates that she competed with and against as a prep.
Washington state athletes on the Sagehens' roster are 2013 and 2012 Lakeside School graduates Rebecca Long and Makayla DeJong, along with 2011 Garfield graduate Zoe Brown. The three are all expected to take the field when the Sagehens visit the University of Puget Sound in an NCAA D3 matchup on Sunday, March 2 in Tacoma. The game gets underway at 10 a.m. on Lower Baker Field on the UPS campus.
While hard work and determination helped Marx earn an NCAA offer, its toughness and passion that have helped her with other battles and a drive to help others.
On the lacrosse field, Marx, who also played soccer and basketball through her freshman year, finished the 2013 prep season as the Spartans leading goal scorer with 38 and second in points with 44. Her success helped guide the powerhouse Spartans to the semifinals of the Washington Lacrosse Girls State Tournament last spring.
But off the field, while maintaining a 3.98 GPA with AP coursework in statistics, calculus, biology, along with honors humanities, and global citizenship, Marx also sets herself apart with a desire to make a difference in her own life – and the lives of others.
Diagnosed at 13 with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic arthritis-like condition causing her joints to become swollen and painful, Marx has not just set out to overcome the discomfort but to put her talents to work to fund research that she hopes will cure a disease that affects some 1.1 million adults and adolescents.
“When I was first diagnosed I didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t want it to be public with any of my friends,” said Marx.
After volunteering at a summer camp with kids dealing with arthritic conditions she was inspired and realized her talents could have an impact.
“When I saw young people dealing with it I realized that there was more that I could do,” she said. “I just want to make a difference and impact as many lives as I can and do something that wasn’t thought of. Nothing too big, just something usual.”
Marx decided to focus her senior project at Bainbridge High on raising awareness of Ankylosing Spondylitis, and set out to train for last fall’s 70.3-mile Ironman competition in Austin, Texas and encourage others to join in by backing her with donations.
Combining running, a part of lacrosse training, enlisting the help of family friend and local swim coach Megan Hawgood to perfect her stroke at the nearby Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center, and cycling with her father Josh, a veteran of Bainbridge’s “Chilly Hilly,” RAMROD and other challenging Northwest rides, she felt ready.
The youngest of the Texas Ironman’s 2,400 competitors, Marx completed the grueling 70.3-mile swim, bike, run, in 6 hours, 46 minutes — 14 minutes ahead of her 7-hour goal.
And when the donations and matching funds were tallied, she had raised more than $19,400 to fight the disease.
“Whenever I start out with a project I set a goal,” said Marx, who draws inspiration from her parents, both Peace Corps volunteers as young adults.
“I’m shocked at how someone my age can make a difference,” she said. “It’s more about what I’m doing to make a difference than the money that comes out of it.”