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Mary Ella Marion returning to coach Mercy basketball

After five years away from coaching, Mary Ella Marion will return to the sideline this winter as Mercy's head basketball coach.

Marion, who coached the Magic from 1985 to 2013, has a career record of 389-322 and ranks 13th on the Baltimore-area all-time list for most girls basketball coaching wins.

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"I never lost my love of the sport," said Marion, who said she stepped away in 2013 for personal reasons and because she felt the program needed some new energy.

She never lost her competitive streak either or her love for teaching the game and building a team.

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"I missed the practices with the girls and seeing their progression and basically building a team after having those tough decisions to make at the start of the season. It was the building process and then finding opportunities for them to be together as a group off the court, whether going to games or going out to dinner, just building those relationships. That's what I remember, being friends with former players on Facebook and them staying in contact with me. You can't replace that."

Marion, Mercy's dean of students for the past four years, played for the Magic and has spent her entire teaching and coaching career at her alma mater. Also the former athletic director, she's still in touch with many of her former players, some of whom were babysitters for her children, including daughter Maggie, who played for the Magic.

After battling breast cancer, she has been cancer free for seven years. She said she stepped down five years ago for personal reasons other than her health but that she also felt it was time for a break.

"I think I was feeling stagnant in terms of coaching," Marion said. "I'm not really even sure that I was thinking about applying for a new position here at school, but I just felt it was the right time for a change in terms of new coaches coming in and getting the excitement back."

The Magic have had two coaches since Marion stepped down and Mercy athletic director Nick Gill said coach Steve Anderson, who had been there for three years, was a "great coach," but "we decided to go in a different direction as a school."

Last season, the Magic finished 7-12 overall and 4-8 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.

"After we were looking for a new coach, Mary Ella and I had a meeting and it was clear that she had an interest and in my opinion, she's a legend in the girls basketball community," Gill said. "I remember when I was at Calvert Hall, I had friends who played for her and I remember going to Mercy-IND games and being in awe of how she commanded the floor. Once I realized she was interested, it was a slam dunk for Mercy."

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