Following the 2013 death of former McDaniel College alumnus and lacrosse standout Mike Marks, the McDaniel community continues to feel the impact of his loss every day.
"Mike was always a great ambassador of the program," McDaniel College director of sports information Luke Stillson said. "He was a starter and leader, both on and off the field."
Marks passed away June 15, 2013, as a result of an automobile accident. The crash occurred just weeks after the four-year starter on the men's lacrosse team and two-year captain graduated from McDaniel with a bachelor's degree in political science and international studies. He was set to begin his graduate studies at American University in Washington, D.C., and also volunteered for four years for the Tournament of Champions, which is an event held at McDaniel College for special needs students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Keith Euker, who has been McDaniel's head men's lacrosse coach since July 1, 2015, said he spoke with offensive coordinator Frank LeQuang and players currently on the team who interacted with Marks to learn more about him as an individual.
"In our world, to not only be a four-year starter but also a two-year captain -- that says a lot about his character," Euker said. "The fact that he was nominated as a junior immediately told me that I could kind of imagine what his personality was like and what his type of character was like.
"He was the kind of guy that would inspire others. He would inspire others to motivate themselves, to push themselves beyond their limits."
Marks also made an impact in the classroom at McDaniel. Silvia Baage, an assistant professor at McDaniel, taught Marks in several of her French classes during his senior year in 2013 and said he was interested in French culture. Baage said Marks was so interested in learning the French language, to this day, he remains the only student who received credit for attending meetings at the French House residential hall on campus at 2 a.m.
"He was optimistic, cheerful and a wonderful person to have in my class," Baage said.
Baage wrote one of Marks' letters of recommendation for graduate school and saw him at graduation just weeks before his death. She said she encouraged him to continue taking French classes at American University.
"That was all planned and supposed to happen, but unfortunately it didn't," Baage said.
As time passed, Joe and Barbara Marks were determined to preserve their son's legacy at McDaniel.
"We had to figure out a way to keep our son's name alive," Joe Marks said.
It wasn't until Euker, who arrived at McDaniel in 2015, built a relationship with Joe and Barbara Marks that the plan to install a new scoreboard would come to fruition.
"Our SID came to me and said, 'We're trying to get a new scoreboard, and we need money to do it. Do you think the Marks would be interested in donating for it?'" Euker said.
Euker said through the initial start, Joe and Barbara were interested in the idea, but wanted to see what the scoreboard would officially look like. Euker went back to the school's powers-that-be to share with them what the Marks family wanted for the scoreboard.
"They wanted to make sure it looked the way they wanted it to look and to have Mike's name on there," Euker said.
Joe and Barbara Marks ended up donating $150,000 for the new scoreboard in memory of their son and attended the scoreboard's official dedication ceremony held at halftime of the McDaniel football home opener against Muhlenberg Sept. 17, where they spoke about their son to the McDaniel community.
"It was bittersweet," Euker said. "For Barbara to stand there and speak on the field about Mike, I think it's a testament to how tough she is. I've gotten to know her and Joe very well over the last year. They are just really good people. Very hard-working. You can see where Mike would've gotten those traits."
Joe and Barbara Marks continue to be a part of the McDaniel lacrosse program and continue to be amazed with the support from McDaniel and Marks' lacrosse family, especially as the new scoreboard dedicated in his honor will light up the playing field at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium for every athletic contest on the field.
"Mike lit up every room he walked into from the moment he was born," Barbara Marks said. "To have [the scoreboard] light up the campus was huge for me."
Issue 226: October 2016