Portland State Magazine Fall 2022

“I swear that gal has green blood in her,” said Marlene Piper, another university hall-of-famer who developed PSU’s women’s volleyball program and coached the team from 1969 to 1983. “She was just born-and-bred Portland.” Piper would often need to teach fundamentals of the game to players in the fledgling program. Mariani was a different kind of athlete, blending quickness and aggressiveness with a more developed skillset. After Piper made Mariani a captain, the volleyball team earned three consecutive national tournament berths and two top-10 finishes. “Teri had that confidence in her skills and people really responded to it on the court,” Piper said. “She did not like to lose.” Halfway through Mariani’s time as a PSU student, collegiate women’s sports experienced an historic boost. Title IX, adopted in 1972, prohibited sex-based discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding. It legally obligated schools to provide more resources for female athletes. Still, changes would only take place gradually over the ensuing years. Mariani was hired as the softball team’s head coach immediately after her graduation in fall 1976. She played professional softball in California in the summers of 1976 through 1979, first in San Bernardino and the final two seasons in San Jose. At the beginning of Mariani’s head coaching tenure, the team needed to wash cars to pay for travel. Mariani even helped maintain the landscaping at the softball field where the team played. Mariani also juggled roles in the athletic department—including stints as interim athletics director—while she was coaching. “It was intentional to learn all the different jobs to give me possible future job security,”Mariani said. “I always had this fear that they might drop my sport at some point.” Mariani eventually had opportunities at other schools, but she stuck with PSU. “I love the university, I love the downtown campus,”Mariani said. “And I just love the city of Portland.” Mariani, now 70, said she is glad about the inequities Title IX has remedied—like team travel budgets—but remains determined to advance women’s sports in other areas, including media coverage. “My fear is that we’re going to sit back a little bit, because there’s still so many things to fight for.” —JACK HEFFERNAN looking back 663 WINS AND STILL FIGHTING WHEN TERI MARIANI began her collegiate athletic career in the early 1970s, the training room had just one entrance—through the men’s locker room. Female athletes seeking treatment would need to meet in the lobby with a trainer, who would place a paper bag over their head and lead them through. It was another of the numerous inequities female athletes faced. “I think about that now and I think, ‘Why did you even put up with that?’” said Mariani ’76, who played basketball, volleyball, and softball at Portland State between 1970 and 1975. “At the time, we were just so excited to be having an opportunity to play. We didn’t look at comparisons with the men’s sports and what they got.” A lifelong Portlander who graduated from nearby St. Mary’s Academy, Mariani would go on to become a 29-year PSU softball head coach and compile a school-record 663 wins. In 1999, she was inducted into the Portland State Athletics Hall of Fame. Still a broadcaster for PSU women’s sports, Mariani has spent more than a half-century on campus. LEFT: Teri Mariani (far right) spent 29 years as PSU’s softball head coach. RIGHT: As a PSU student , she experienced firsthand the inequities in women’s athletics. Photos courtesy of Teri Mariani. 40 // PORTLAND STATE MAGAZINE