During her time at the University of New Mexico, Maria Gurreri made a huge impact on her peers, professors and teammates. She was known for being a great leader, an intense competitor and a strong hitter. Maria was a four-year starter with the UNM volleyball team and team captain in 1990.
“Maria Gurreri exemplifies the image one perceives of a student-athlete. She is a UNM scholar athlete; she has been an outstanding competitor within conference play and on the national level; and when time permitted, Maria has been involved with several community programs. She has exhibited team leadership, particularly her senior year when she served as captain of the volleyball team,” said Pat Trainor, Past Director of Sports Information, Women.
Gurreri was twice chosen all-conference. In 1990, she was named all-tournament four times, tournament MVP twice, WAC Player -of-the-Week twice, Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame co-female athlete of the year, and WAC All-Academic Team with a GPA of 3.02 in Nursing. Maria also was the 1991 NCAA Woman of the year for the state of New Mexico.
When she left UNM, Gurreri held the overall single season individual record with 474 kills in 1990 and 1,117 attempts in 1990. She also held the career mark with 1,473 kills, 3,426 attempts and 1,048 digs.
“She has been one of the most exciting and inspirational athletes to ever play for UNM. She is a leader on the court and off the court in everyday situations. Maria exudes enthusiasm for all that she does. She has an infectious personality and smile that draws people to her. She is a shining example of what athletics can teach young people,” said Laurel Brassey, UNM head volleyball coach at the time.
Gurreri got to play in the 1989 and 1991 U.S. Olympic Festivals. She even took the gold medal in 1989 and was captain of the team. During these games, Gurreri was praised for her power and strength despite being just 5’9″.
“She lit it up. She’s only 5-9, but she’s such a powerful jumper that it’s difficult for blockers to time her. And she’s definitely got a terminating arm swing,” said Olympic Festival South coach Lisa Love.
Gurreri is originally from Amherst, N.Y., and comes from a large family of four sisters.
Gurreri worked at UNM Hospital for a few years and then moved to Missoula, Mont., where she now works as a nurse.