Once teammates, Marx and Orvis set to face off as coaches
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Once teammates, Marx and Orvis set to face off as coaches

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As longtime friends and former teammates, there's plenty of excitement between Susan Orvis and Cathy Marx heading into Tuesday.

"She texted me (Sunday) night asking, 'Are you ready for this?'" Marx said of her counterpart.

The pair will face off against each other for the first time as opposing coaches when Marx's River Queens host Orvis' Muskies tonight at Yourd Gymnasium.

It will be a unique experience for both coaches, who played together for one season at the University of Iowa in the 1993-94 season under head coach C. Vivian Stringer. Orvis has been head coach of the Muskies since 2009 while Marx is in her first year at the helm of the River Queens.

"It's kind of funny, you shake your head and wonder, how did we find ourselves here on opposite sidelines?" Orvis said. "At the same time, it's great to see a former teammate and such a dear friend and to know as a new coach up at Clinton, she's going to bring so much to that program."

The bond forged from their time on the Hawkeyes, though short, has lasted to this day.

Orvis (nee Koering) had a tough task coming into Iowa as a freshman. She had played 6-on-6 basketball at Lincoln of Stanwood and was joining a Hawkeye team that was coming off a trip to the Final Four the year prior.

Marx, then a senior, had a big role in helping Orvis settle in.

"No question Cathy was just like a big sister to me, she took me in under her wing," Orvis said. "To step into a Final Four program, there was a really steep learning curve and obviously Vivian Stringer runs a pretty tight ship. I had a lot to learn and not a lot of time to learn it so to have Cathy's support just throughout, helping me learn and being there as a teammate, encouraging throughout was really critical for me my freshman year and laid the groundwork."

After that season, Orvis went and watched Marx play overseas and kept in touch when Marx was an assistant coach at Butler University. Marx was at Orvis' wedding and when the Clinton job opened up, it was Orvis who advised Marx that she should take it.

"Susan’s such a sponge. She’s always been a sponge and wanted to get better so she just fit right in with us," Marx said. "I'm so excited to have Susan come into Yourd."

Both programs are at different stages right now. Orvis has had a decade to build hers up while Marx is just beginning to lay the groundwork.

So there won't be any friendly bragging rights revolving around this game, or in the January rematch in Muscatine. Down the road, that might change, but right now, with plenty of friends and family planning to be in attendance, the coaches are focused on sending a positive message to their players.

"Susan understands where we are, where the Clinton River Queens basketball program is right now and she just wants the best for me and she wants the best for our girls," Marx said. "That's the same for Muscatine and hopefully we're both still doing this in the next five years and then we can look at something like bragging rights."

"The girls know this is going to be a fun game for us. There might be more than me just giving her a handshake at the beginning and end of the game. ... Showing the girls that even in competition, you don't have to hate the other people you're playing against. There's a time and a place to be competitive and there's a time and place as friends."

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