Mourners met Oct. 21 at Victory Sports Park in South San Antonio to remember Marikate Maggio, an 18-year-old freshman who was in her first semester at Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA). Maggio died in an automobile accident on Sept. 26.
Marikate’s car was struck by an 18-wheeler near Calaveras Lake Wednesday, Sept. 26. She was driving south on U.S. 181 when her car was struck by a tractor-trailer as she drove through the intersection at FM 775. She was taken to Connally Memorial Medical Center, but died after arrival.
At her funeral, the church had a maximum capacity of 250 people and it was standing room only with more people waiting outside to pay their respects. Those who knew her say they will remember her love of softball, uplifting personality and beautiful smile.
Teams gathered at 8 a.m. to begin the memorial softball tournament in Marikate’s honor. Ball players wore jerseys to show their support for their lost player. Four different teams wore neon pink and black shirts with her initials ‘MKM’ and number 18 in her honor. One jersey had the words ‘One Man Down’ written across the front. Another team even had a special jersey made for Marikate’s mother with angel wings on the front.
Her friends knew Marikate Maggio as “MK.” She only played with the league for a short time, so this level of support and the amount of people participating in the tournament is a true testament to the kind of impact she had on the people around her, said her mother, Georgann Maggio.
Just prior to one of the games, her teammates huddled on the field for a moment of silence and remembrance, then drew her number in the sand on the pitcher’s mound.
Trevor Montero, Marikate’s boyfriend and A&M-SA freshman, was especially moved by the moment of silence and the day’s events. They spent most of their time together, so events like the softball tournament are difficult without her there by his side.
“It’s been tough to find balance again,” Montero said.
College Bound: An Aggie from Day One
Maggio said she and MK had a special bond. They did everything together and MK told her everything. Maggio said with a little laugh that sometimes she shared too much. But she enjoyed and appreciated the bond they shared. Maggio said one of the perks of living in Floresville and close to campus was that MK would go home every day to have lunch with her.
Maggio also talked about Marikate’s whimsical side. She said MK had lots of pig collectables and the ring tone on her phone was the sound of a pig oinking. Maggio said MK had a pair of big pink pig slippers that she wore daily. After her first day of school at A&M-SA, she came home complaining that her feet hurt and she was going to dress more comfortably the next day. Maggio said the next morning MK was leaving for school and Maggio couldn’t believe what she saw.
“I looked at her and she had on her athletic pants and her pink pig slippers,” Maggio said. “She wore those to school, second day, all over A&M.”
Maggio said she loved those slippers so much that she was buried with them, along with her first baby doll, her first stuffed animal, her umpire gear and her softball gear.
Maggio said the bond she and Marikate shared started from the time she brought her home. She said MK was one of several foster children she raised over the years. Marikate was just 3-months-old when she came home with Maggio and they have been inseparable from that day on. She went to every game, every practice, it didn’t matter what MK was doing, Maggio said she would leave work if she had to, but she was always there.
“I managed hotels for years and if they wouldn’t let me do that [leave work], then I would just go find another job,” Maggio said. “That’s the truth, she was always my number one priority.”
Marikate grew up in Galveston, but moved to Floresville with her mother to help care for her ailing father, William Richard Maggio. Maggio said Marikate always dreamed of attending Texas A&M University-College Station. She said Marikate was an Aggie from day one. But she made the decision to attend A&M-SA so she could be closer to her father.
Even after her father’s death in May 2018, Marikate was so impressed with A&M-SA and other students she met during her campus tour, that she decided it was the school for her.
“Marikate never had a bad day at that school,” Maggio said. “She always felt welcomed, she always felt comfortable and the people always made themselves available.”
Maggio said she was so thankful that Marikate was able to start college before she died. She said she lived such a full life and did so much in her short 18 years and college was one of Marikate’s big life goals, so Georgann was glad she began that journey.
“She lived 90 years in about 18; she lived a very full life,” Maggio said. “She had her little bucket list and that was one of the main things with her from the time she knew what college was. She wanted to go to college.”
First Love was Softball
Maggio said Marikate was an honors student and even enjoyed a spirited political debate, but her first love was softball. She said she was passionate about the sport and played every chance she got. Maggio said Marikate had such an aptitude for the game that she was offered an opportunity to become an umpire, usually a position held by men and by someone much older than Marikate, but within a week she was calling games right alongside the men.
Tony Prets, Galveston Lassie League president and softball coach, said he got to know Marikate while coaching her on and off for eight years on the girls youth softball league. Prets talked about how much Marikate meant to the team and how much she will be missed.
“You couldn’t beat her smile and her bright eyes, and when she looked at you with those bright eyes and that smile you knew everything would to be okay,” Prets said. “She just had that personality and that effect on everybody around her. That’s what I’m gonna miss.”
Prets and Maggio echoed the same thoughts. Both said Marikate had several interests and excelled in many things. She graduated with double endorsement in French and engineering. She was a member of the national engineering honors society, national French honors society, national forensics honors society, an AB honor roll student, president of the fellowship of Christian athletes, a member of the Jaycees.
She won awards in competition with the debate team and she was a skilled writer. But Prets, like Marikate’s mother, said her first love was softball.
“Marikate loved to catch, she was a catcher at heart,” Prets said. “But she also played first base and she was actually second team all-district outfielder this year. She was a good little outfielder.”
Marikate played softball for her high school team. She played on several co-ed softball teams and on a couple of travel teams. Prets said she practiced almost every day and her debate coach was well aware of her commitment to softball.
“The debate teacher will tell you he was always mad at us,” Prets said. “If we were in playoffs for softball and they had debate finals at the same time, debate lost. So he was never happy about that.”
Prets said that was a testament to how much she loved the sport. He went on to say she was a great teammate and a good friend. As with any team, sometimes personality conflicts arise and people don’t always get along with each other. But Marikate was supportive and developed a close bond with one of her teammates, Gabby. Prets said their friendship strengthened when Marikate helped Gabby through a particularly tough time.
UTSA freshman Gabby Prets said Marikate was the person on the team who would try to make everyone laugh and encourage her teammates. She said Marikate was always understanding and you knew she cared.
“She was the one person I could look forward to seeing everyday at the softball fields because I knew that she would have my back and she would cheer me up,” Gabby said. “And she loved softball. If she could play forever, she would have.”
Gabby said her favorite memories of Marikate are of the days when they would show up at the softball field, park next to each other, look over at each other while both playing their music and dancing in their separate cars, but singing and dancing with each other. But she said the thing she will miss most is talking to Marikate.
“That was the best thing between us, just being able to talk about anything,” Gabby said. “We were just there for each other.”
Losing Your Best Friend
Marikate’s mother said people had a tendency to open up to her quickly and easily. But Maggio said even though Marikate made friends easily and knew people from all walks of life, she had some very specific requirements when it came to boyfriends.
“Dates mostly consisted of going to practice with her, so if they couldn’t warm her up and catch with her, then she didn’t want to date them,” Maggio said. “She had her little list and that was at the top of the list, if they played baseball or not.”
Gabby said Trevor Montero and Marikate were together all the time. He came to all of her games and practices, and she did the same for him. Gabby said they also went to each other’s prom and Marikate even asked Trevor to prom on the field, in true Marikate fashion.
“After his game, she went out onto the baseball field. She held up a poster and asked him to prom,” Gabby said. “Obviously, he said yes.”
Tony and Gabby Prets both said Trevor was with Marikate as often as possible, helping her practice and just spending time with her. And Maggio said this has been as difficult for Trevor as it has been for her.
“He lost his best friend, tutoring partner, and softball partner,” Maggio said. “None of this is easy. It’s horrible. But it’s comforting to me to know she made a difference.”
Maggio said Marikate had such a big impact on everyone she met, but that was just her way.
Mom Loses a Second Child
Maggio said this is the second time she has experienced the death of a child. Her son Peter Murray John “PJ” also died in a car accident when he was just 21-years-old, and after his death Maggio felt like he sent her a sign to say he was okay. Maggio said Marikate knew this story well and the day Marikate died, Maggio said she asked Marikate for a sign.
Maggio said when she left the hospital and they were taking Marikate away in the hearse, a rainbow appeared over the vehicle and followed it the entire drive. Maggio said her friends following behind in the next car even called her and pointed at the rainbow to make sure she noticed.
And again, on the day of her funeral, a rainbow appeared over the top of St. Dunstan’s church just after Maggio told again the story of the rainbow following the hearse. She said she felt like that was her sign from Marikate to tell her mom she was okay. Maggio said she plans to have PJ’s ashes buried alongside Marikate so her two children will be together forever.
“I feel like if you can be satisfied when you die, I can say that the things she wanted to do, she did,” Maggio said. “I think she was very fulfilled and content with where she was.”