What made 1999 Madison graduate and four-time all-state softball selection Morgan Marr so special was that she had "the gracefulness and competitiveness all in one," said her mother Barbara, who used to drive her ballerina daughter between softball games, dance classes and beauty pageants.
"I was hell on wheels," said Morgan. "So [my parents] got me involved in as much as possible to keep me occupied and it's gone into my life now. I constantly have to be doing a million things to be engaged and intrigued."
Marr, who still holds the record for all-time wins, among others at Madison, was focused on pitching from a young age.
"She is a spirited force and you can't corral her," said Barbara, who remembers having to share her daughter with the Vienna Pigtail Ponytail League softball league. "She was my daughter and my husband's son," said Barbara of Morgan. "All the [softball] coaches would get mad at me for having her in dance and, literally, we would be running to the game [after dance]. One game, she had to wear tights underneath her uniform."
BUT IT NEVER mattered what uniform she was in, what team she played for or at what level Marr competed, she was simply dominant. Even from a young age, Marr showed signs of competitive fire.
"She threw the ball fast, she just couldn't control it [yet]," said Marr's VPPL coach E.J. Thomas, who is now the softball coach at Paul VI. "At that age, [pitchers] hit a couple kids and the kids cry and then [the pitchers] back off. Morgan didn't back off."
Marr never backed off and eventually carried Madison to two district titles, two regional titles in three appearances, and three state tournament appearances including one runner-up finish (1998 finals: Great Bridge 12, Madison 0).
She earned four all-state selections, four all-region selections, four all-district selections and was Madison's Female Athlete of the Year (1999). Marr was named the Liberty District Player of the Year twice, and the Northern Region Player of the Year twice. She also holds the record for most wins in Madison's history, which included one dominating win against Robinson in the 1998 Northern Region quarterfinals in which she struck out 18 consecutive batters en route to a perfect game.
"I don't think I was ever nervous, because I was very comfortable in that circle," said Marr, who grew up playing for Tommy Orndorff's Shamrocks team. "Always, growing up, expecting I was going to be the pitcher at Madison, that was what I was destined to do since I was eight years old."
ORNDORFF, WHOSE Shamrocks recently became the first east coast team in 12 years to win the Amateur Softball Association tournament title, watched Marr develop as she became the longest-tenured player with the Shamrocks organization. "Her tenure was longer than anybody else's," said Orndorff, who coached Marr as she played with the 18U team since the age of 15 and with the Shamrocks since she was 10 years old — before the organizations younger levels had even developed.
"She has always been on a fast-track compared to everybody else," said Orndorff, who coached against Marr in high school when his Bishop O'Connell team would square off with Madison in the spring NOVA Invitational tournament. "By moving up as fast as she did, she gained maturity beyond her years."
Marr showed that maturity as a team captain at Madison for three years.
"We always fought really hard for the other person's success," said 1999 graduate and catcher Britt Gore — who served as the other half of one of the most successful batteries in Northern Region softball history. "Morgan was always really good at that. It helped not only our playing level, but the team."
With Marr and Gore playing pitch and catch — since earning the positions as freshman under first year head coach Chris Dilandro — Madison dominated the district. "The first day when Morgan and I went to tryouts, we were kind of unsure, because he had coached football," remembered Gore of Dilandro, who was in his first year as a softball coach at Madison in 1996. "We weren't really sure. You don't have a resume, we are kind of like, what does this guy know?"
Dilandro knew enough to let the younger girls prove themselves and compete for the starting position — a strategy that Marr believed he carried over from football.
"It was a clean slate for everybody. He came from the football mentality, survival of the fittest, nothing is guaranteed, which I had grown up with through my dad and my coaches," said Marr, who earned her first win in a snow-covered game against Woodson as a freshman.
WHAT DILANDRO KNEW was that Marr was a special talent. "I think when she first came in, she really had tremendous speed," remembered Dilandro. "She was very aggressive, she was young and as she got older, she became a more polished pitcher. She may not have struck out as many [batters] as a senior, but she pitched better."
Marr was recruited by Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Hofstra and eventually chose to accept a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky because of her want to play in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
"The batting lineup [in college] is everyone's No. 4 hitter that you have ever seen [in high school]. You can't relax anymore with the seven through nine hitters like in high school," said Marr.
In only three years at Kentucky, Marr was able to not only finish her undergraduate degree, but posted several softball records, including fourth in appearances (80), fourth in innings pitched (371), fourth in starts (61), third in ERA (3.08), third in opponent batting average (.282), fourth in strikeouts (122), third in wins (38) and third in saves (2). She helped Kentucky to a regular season championship (2000), and the school's first ever SEC tournament appearances (2000, 2001).
She finished her fourth year of college at the University of Central Florida as a part of the inaugural class of the DeVof Sports Business Management school where she earned her master's degree while serving as UCF softball's pitching coach. She lives in Atlanta as a consultant with Executrack and works part time with the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) and Atlanta Hawks (NBA) as a stage manager. She is also modeling and will appear in the September issue of FIRST magazine and will continue her education with some form of schooling. Marr, who has come close to reality television stardom, is also currently writing a fiction book, which has made for a busy lifestyle that hasn't changed much since her days as a youngster in Vienna. "She had her life charted out from the time she was born," said Barbara. "I barely got 'good morning sunshine' out and she would say 'let's do this, this, and this.'"
Morgan Marr is 79 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.