Gabriela Marginean – Highway to Success

Gabriela Marginean’s Path to PSWA Amateur Athlete of the Year Award

By Glenn Papazian

There were many twists and turns in the road she has traveled. Each fork in the road required a decision she needed to make. Each time the path chosen by Gabriela Marginean was the correct one. The Drexel University basketball star was born in Romania, went to high school in West Virginia, and college at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The road she traveled led her to become the Philadelphia Sportswriter’s Association Amateur Athlete of the Year.

Gabriela Marginean was born in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the daughter of Ioan and Iudit Marginean. She was interested in athletics at a young age. However, it was tennis that was her sport not basketball. It was a twist of fate that she saw some girls playing basketball, and that attracted her to the game at age of 13.

“I was playing tennis for 7 years before I started playing basketball,” said Marginean. “There was a tennis tournament, and my Dad and I were walking around when I had a break. The basketball team was playing on a tennis court. I asked my Dad, can I try this? I quit tennis and started playing basketball.”

Opting to play basketball was the first of many decisions that would alter her life. She became a member of the Romanian Under 20 National team where she led the team in scoring and rebounding in the 2007 European Championships. Marginean averaged 19.5 points and 7 rebounds per game, and was named team captain. Another decision and change of residence loomed, and she came to this country and played high school basketball at Mt. de Chantal Academy in Wheeling, West Virginia. The team was playing in a tournament at Drexel. Her style of play caught the eye of Drexel Coach Denise Dillon. Gabriela felt comfortable and made the decision to come to Philadelphia and enroll at Drexel University. It was a place where she could carry both her tennis racket and basketball.

 “I played here (at Drexel) my junior and senior year in high school,” said Marginean. “Drexel recruited me, and I loved it here. I can play both sports here.”

Another decision became another success story. A 6’ 1” forward Marginean’s basketball career at Drexel has been phenomenal. As a freshman in 2006-07 she was named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year. Marginean was the only freshman to rank among the CAA top 10 in scoring and rebounding. That season she set the Drexel single-game scoring record with 47 points in a five-overtime game against Northeastern on February 22, 2007. She also tied the school single-game rebounding record with 22 rebounds in that game.

In her sophomore season Marginean earned First Team All-CAA honors. She led the NCAA in free-throw percentage at 91.5%. In a February 28, 2008 game against Towson Marginean scored her 1,000th point, the fastest any player reached 1,000 points in the CAA and the first Drexel sophomore to reach that mark.

Her junior year was memorable for the Dragons and Marginean. Named the CAA Player of the Year, she led Drexel to its first ever CAA championship in a win against James Madison University. That season Marginean set Drexel’s single season record for scoring with 769 points. She also set the record for field goals (252), field goal attempts (529), and free throws made (243). In six games Marginean scored 30 points or more. Up to this point her junior year is her most memorable.

“It was the biggest year we had since I’ve been here,” said Marginean. “It was huge and that will be in my mind and my memories.”

Marginean came into this present season as a candidate for the John R. Wooden Award and for All-America honors. She has not disappointed. Her statistics are still being compiled. Marginean was honored among the top 10 by the Philadelphia Daily News in their Sportsperson of the Year voting. On January 7, 2010 Marginean became the leading scorer in CAA history when she made a foul shot against William & Mary. The 2,122nd point of her career put Marginean past James Madison’s Tamera Young and into first place.

But ask Gabriela about how she would like to be remembered at Drexel, it would not be for basketball for what is thought about when her name is mentioned.  Marginean would rather be remembered as a person.

“A playful person,” said Marginean. “I build up relationships with everybody, so I hope they remember me for who I am.”

The Humanities and Social Science major has more goals to accomplish. She will have challenges that she will face in the future. No one knows where the road will turn next. Using the past as an indicator of the future, Marginean will make the right decision in traveling the road of life.

The Amateur Athlete Award will go to a truly multi-cultural person. She is Romanian, West Virginian, and now a Philadelphian. We welcome her as a part of the Philadelphia family. She really has become a Philadelphian as Marginean said the Phillies are her favorite Philadelphia professional sports team.

This is a journey that started when a little girl who saw some kids playing basketball, then looked into her father’s eyes and asked “can I try this?”

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