Mariellen Mardis grateful to live out dream with Bears
Entering her sixth season with the Bears, assistant athletic trainer Mariellen Mardis continues to bring the same "servant's heart" to the job that she developed as a young girl.
Story by Gabby Hajduk
Before Mariellen Mardis even reached school age, her future in athletic training was evident. Growing up with a father who worked in the athletic department at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., Mardis was always around sports and finding different ways to help.
She would stand behind the bench at men's and women's basketball games, eagerly waiting to hand a player water or fetch someone a towel. If she wasn't the first person to help them, she was disappointed. She also remembers often hanging out in the athletic training room, fooling around with the ice tubs or rolls of tape.
Still, Mardis didn't intend on becoming an athletic trainer. She enrolled at the University of Illinois in 2012 to pursue her goal of becoming a physician's assistant. But after just one semester in college, she found her way back to the training room and never left.
"Being in the training room, going out to practice and being around a team felt comfortable for me," Mardis said. "I liked being able to work towards a goal with other people. So I kind of married the two passions of mine – medicine and helping people, as well as being around that sports environment that I've always enjoyed. So I think that's kind of where it started, and then just propelled from there."
Now entering her sixth season with the Bears training staff – her third as a full-time assistant athletic trainer – Mardis feels more confident in her position than ever. While she didn't always feel that sense of comfort on the inside, those around her always saw her as confident.
When the Bears drafted receiver Darnell Mooney in 2020, Mardis was wrapping up her second season with the club. But Mooney assumed she was a veteran in the field by the way she carried herself and "knew what was going on at all times."
"When I first got here, she was an intern – I didn't even know that," Mooney said. "I thought she was a head honcho. Once she got the job, I was like, 'oh, I thought you been had that. I thought that was your job title anyway.' She's been doing her thing since I've got here and just making a note that she knows what she's talking about, not in an ego way but in a comforting way.
"She's still the same person as she was [then]. She doesn't think she's bigger than anybody, she's very helpful, very careful and she's just a great human being."