It's been eleven years since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. Today we honor the heroes of September 11th, 2001, including those who lost their lives. One of those people, Mari-Rae Sopper, closely touched the collegiate gymnastics community. As you may know, Mari-Rae Sopper was Head Coach of the University of California, Santa Barbara's women's gymnastics team. She was also a former standout collegiate gymnast and team captain for Iowa State. Many of you knew her in the capacity of coach, teammate, competitor, colleague and friend.
Mari-Rae Sopper was also known to many on the collegiate gymnastics message board as "ISUFan", an enthusiastic and knowledgable contributer. In September of 2001, Mari-Rae Sopper had given up a career as a successful lawyer in D.C. and had taken a large cut in pay to pursue her dream. As Head Coach of the UCSB program, she was determined to save the program from elimination. She had chosen to devote herself fully to the sport she loved and to live her dream. You can find out more about Mari-Rae's remarkable life, courage and enthusiasm at the memorial web site
set up by her family. After the tragedy, her family set up the Mari-Rae Sopper Memorial Gymnastics Fund
to honor her memory and to extend her dream.
Additional links about Mari-Rae:
2011 video interview with her mother
9/11/11 Interview with her sister
Mari-Rae Sopper Memorial Web Site
ISU's 2011 Press Release
Her mom's message at the 91101memorial.org site
Pentagon Memorial Biography
Sports Illustrated Feature
"...let the official record say, Mari-Rae Sopper, when last seen, was headed toward her dream"
--Mike Sharples, former Head Coach, ISU