When freshman Carrington Marendes wakes up in the morning, he looks forward to the echoing sound of wheelchairs clashing in the gym during a Movin’ Mavs practice.
“I like to hit chairs a lot more than some people,” Marendes said.
As a new member of the Movin’ Mavs, Marendes is inspired to lead through the experiences he has obtained in both sports and life.
Marendes grew up as a multi-sport athlete, playing adaptive flag football and experiencing success in adaptive track and field in high school.
He said those past athletic experiences have provided him with traits that are tailor-made for his role with the Movin’ Mavs this season.
“Just like catching a football,” Marendes said. “Knowing where the rebound is going [and] getting off the rim, just knowing the little things like which way the defender is going.”
At Woodville High School, Marendes competed in the University Interscholastic League track and field state meet finals four years in a row. His senior year, he claimed first place in the shot put event and the 400-meter dash.
Head coach Doug Garner said Marendes has played a big role in expanding adaptive track and field into what it is today.
“He was one of the pioneers in Texas high schools of doing adaptive track and field,” Garner said. “Student athletes like him have helped grow the sport.”
The experiences Marendes brings to the team are not limited to sports, as some personal moments in his life have helped define who he is today.
In March 2016, a day that was supposed to be filled with the fierce competition of a track meet ended up becoming one of the dark days in Marendes’ life.
A school bus driving Woodville ISD track athletes and coaches lost control and flipped. In a time of fear, Marendes was tending to those trapped in the wreckage.
“Some people they couldn’t really move, and I helped them,” he said. “I grabbed their arm and helped them out.”
The accident had no life-threatening injuries, but it left an everlasting impression on Marendes.
“That was a pretty scary experience,” he said. “It felt like everybody came together that day to try to make sure that we were OK.”
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The courage he gathered from that event can be attributed to his days as a youth. In 2009, one of his brothers, Brandon Hart, passed away in a tragic accident. He credits his mother, Belinda Hart, as one of his main inspirations of strength.
“She’s a single mom, [she’s] doing the best she can to help me get to where I am today,” Marendes said. “She’s one of the main reasons why I am who I am today.”
The loss of his brother not only influenced Marendes to compete in adaptive sports but also taught him how to deal with tough moments in life.
“I just feel like that’s how I carry on his legacy,” Marendes said. “That really made me stronger as a person.”
After not being able to play tackle football because of its injury risks, Marendes said he came upon basketball unexpectedly.
During an adaptive sports convention, Marendes was noticed by a representative from the TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels. He was later invited to participate in a practice session with the team.
In 2015, his first season with the Junior Hotwheels, Marendes helped the team to a NWBA junior national championship title.
Senior Fabian Romo was also a member of that championship team. Romo said he knows what kind of addition Marendes is to the Movin’ Mavs this season.
“A couple of the guys call him, the ‘young bull,’” Romo said. “He’s a workhorse for sure.”
The Movin’ Mavs will move forward with the next group of players hoping that Marendes is one of the top contributors on the team.
“Like anybody growing into a leadership position he’s great at communicating,” Garner said. “He can play at this level.”