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FGHS grads escort Mariota

Sean and Margaret Connors get a meet-and-greet with Heisman Trophy winner

Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - Sean (left) and Margaret (second from right) Connors, both Forest Grove High graduates, took University of Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (center) on a tour of the 9/11 memorial in New York City Monday along with their dad, Jim Connors (far right).A pair of Forest Grove High School graduates stumbled into a chance to squire 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota around New York City’s World Trade Center Monday, Dec. 15.

Sister and brother Margaret and Sean Connors — children and step-children of Forest Grove residents (and Montinore Vineyard owners) Susan Fichter and Rudy Marchesi — were able to spend several hours with America’s best-known Duck.

The meeting unfolded quite serendipitously, according to Susan. Her kids, both U of O students, were in New York visiting their dad, Jim Connors — who is chief operating officer of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and a survivor of the 9/11 attacks — for the holidays.

On Monday morning, they found out their dad’s boss, who was originally scheduled to give Mariota a tour of the memorial grounds, had to back out.

“[Jim] said, ‘Guys, do you want to take Marcus around?’ And of course they said ‘Yeah!’” Susan said Tuesday morning. “They were thrilled.”

Margaret, 19, and Sean, 21, are both “huge U of O fans,” according to their mother. Margaret is a sophomore and Sean is a senior on the Eugene campus. “They’re crazy fans of Duck football.” And both were accomplished athletes at FGHS, with Sean starring at wide receiver for the Vikings his senior year.

To make the date with Mariota, a UO junior, the Connors had to drive 2.5 hours. But they were happy to oblige, and got to meet members of Mariota’s family in the bargain.

“Marcus was very humble — quiet and so nice and respectful,” said Margaret. “It was great to meet him.”

Mariota’s brother and father “brought Hawaiian leis to place near the names of the five [9/11] victims from Hawaii,” she said, adding that visiting the memorial was “on the top of his list” of things to do in New York.

Mariota was in the Big Apple over the weekend to receive his Heisman during a gala event in mid-town Manhattan, attended by more than a dozen former trophy winners. He also taped a “top-10 list” segment on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

After helping the Ducks post a 12-1 record this fall, Mariota and his teammates will face the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1, 2015. For Margaret Connors, getting to meet and spend time with Mariota was “an amazing coincidence.” She asked him to sign her green and gold UO baseball cap during their walkabout.

“He wrote ‘Enjoy Eugene. Go Ducks!’” she said.

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