Off to the races: a chat with FDU alum and ‘The Amazing Race’ competitor Marie Mazzocchi

FDU alum Marie Mazzocchi (right) and her ex-boyfriend Tim Sweeney read a clue on 'The Amazing Race.' (Photos courtesy of CBS and Marie Mazzocchi)

Interview by W. Scott Giglio

FDU alumna Marie Mazzocchi, BA’08, just had the experience of a lifetime on CBS’s “The Amazing Race.” She and her partner, ex-boyfriend Tim Sweeney, came in second overall, narrowly missing out on the $1 million first prize.

The former FDU Devils field hockey player recently took a break from her gym, CKO Kickboxing — located just about a mile from the College at Florham in Chatham, N.J. — where she instructs and trains clients, to talk about the race experience:

FDU: Tell us about your experience during “The Amazing Race”!

MM: It went by so quick! It was wild. Tim and I had never left the country before, other than going to islands for vacation — the Bahamas, Aruba and Jamaica. The race could be stressful. Parts felt like the worst part of your life and parts felt like the best. I think I felt both of those ways at least once a day!

FDU: Were you concerned about how fans would perceive you on the show?

MM: The way the show was edited in the beginning, we felt we wouldn’t be popular. But, we knew what we were signing up for. In fact, they even told us in casting that our role would be the “villains” as bickering exes. That worried us a bit. Still, I know my friends and family know who I really am.

FDU: How did your time here at FDU prepare you for “The Amazing Race,” and in general?

Marie Mazzocchi: I learned a lot about teamwork and not giving up when I played field hockey at FDU. Both of which really helped on the race. Sometimes in sports you are the underdog, and there were times that we were down in games and felt like giving up, but our coaches always taught us that it's not over until its over. Sometimes you have to just dig deep and keep going.

I faced a similar situation on “The Amazing Race” when I arrived at a task in last place and the other racers there were already more than halfway done with their task of building a giant robot. I thought for sure we were going to be eliminated, but it wasn’t long before the adrenaline kicked in and I let the thought of an underdog win motivate me. I pushed through it and ended up finishing in first place!

FDU: What advice do you have for current FDU students?

MM: Do what interests you and what you are passionate about. So many students go into college thinking they have to choose a major right away and stick to it. No one can make a huge life decision without trying and experiencing different things.

Try new things and take part in as many activities as you can to get a feel for what really interests you.

FDU: Post-race, do you feel like you’re in a unique, and perhaps, unexpected role model position? How do you feel about that?

MM: I've been overwhelmed with the amount of messages I get from young girls telling me that I've inspired them to either get healthy or stand up for themselves and take a more assertive role in many aspects of their lives. It's so amazing.

If I can help empower more young women as a result of being on the race and showing my strength, then for that reason alone, it was more than worth it. I would absolutely LOVE to get into some type of motivational speaking for middle school, high school and college girls.

FDU: Tell us about the gym you own and about kickboxing for fitness.

MM: I started out teaching kickboxing at CKO part time and immediately realized this is what I should be doing as a career. I loved the feeling I got from motivating people to reach their fitness goals and helping them to change their bodies and their lives. There is absolutely nothing else that even comes close to the feeling and results you get from CKO kickboxing!

FDU: What are your plans now that “The Amazing Race” is over?

MM: Right now, I'm back to regular life, but I've been contacted by a few different agencies and production companies interested in working with me. I'd love to continue working in the entertainment industry, so I'm just starting to feel that out and see where it goes.

Feature Story from the FDU Newsroom

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