Jan. 23, 2009
As the dual meet season begins to wind down and championship season is just around the corner, it is almost time to say farewell to our seniors. The seven ladies that will be presented this weekend with their families and loved ones represent the leaders on our team. They represent strength, confidence and determination to be the best they can be. Each one of these ladies has put their heart and soul into practice every day, on the boards or in the pool. They have shown us how to fight through the hard times and celebrate through the great times. Each and every one of them has grown in the past four years, saying goodbye to those who graduated before them and welcoming those who are just beginning their journey. The Lady Vol swimming and diving team is a family, not just a group of girls, and the ladies that are being presented in their pool, at their senior day, will forever be part of this family.
Each of the seven seniors has brought something different to our team that will never be forgotten. They have helped the rest of the team to overcome fears and succeed in anything we put our minds to, on the pool deck or off of it. These girls have been around since the rest of us started at Tennessee. They showed us the ropes and how to be great.
Maria Jugan has so much passion in her heart for being a Lady Vol. She loves being a part of the team and is so determined to put forth her best whenever she can. She is always there because she wants to be and she always gives her all. The dedication that she has to swimming and to the other 25 women on the team is what sticks out the most about Maria.
Katie Gehring has such a strong presence on this team because she always looks to find the positive and the fun in practice and at swim meets. But at the same time she can focus that energy to be so determined in what she wants - from dancing on the blocks to always being the first to touch the wall in 12.5 sprints, just because there is no reason not to. The drive that she has not only for herself to excel but also for the team to be the best will always be remembered about Katie.
Ashley Quinn is well known for always giving her all whenever she can in practice and at swim meets. She has such a passion for being a leader on the team, leading our breaks and getting everyone up and going. She has the confidence, the presence, and the leadership to help turn a team around or even just to get everyone even more psyched to get up and race. Ashley without a doubt will finish out her year with a bang; I wouldn't expect it any other way.
Although I do not train with Staley McCartney I know that she is very strong-willed and very determined to always give her best. But I figured nobody could describe her better than somebody who trains with her everyday, sophomore diver Jill Pierce: "Staley is everything that you see but a whole lot more! She is very creative and outgoing, but most important, she is one of the most caring people I have ever met. She is a free spirit and always seeks to make the most of every experience. On the boards, she is determined and makes the hardest days more bearable. She is incredibly strong both mentally and physically."
Brittany Nauta is the most caring person I have met. She gives her heart completely to doing everything in her power to be the best that she can be. The drive she has to be great fuels the success of other people. The love that she has for every member of the team is very obvious when she is swimming, cheering, or counting 66 laps.
Carly Mathes has an attitude about her that she can do anything. The strength that she shows physically and mentally gives her such power and control over every aspect of her life in and out of the pool. She wants the team to succeed and she is absolutely a big contributor to the team's success. Many of us look up to her being a leader on our team. She pushes us all to get what needs to be done.
Sarah McCall is an amazing person who loves all things Lady Vol. She is determined to give everything her all and to accomplish what she sets out to do. She is a leader in the fact that she keeps on fighting and pushing through the ups and downs. No matter what life throws at her, she can take it head on. From doing dances with her kickboard, to giving her all during every practice and swim meet, she can manage to put a smile on anyone's face. The drive she has to succeed shows many of us that if we want something in life, we can get it if we put our heart and soul into it.
Finally, someone who is not a swimmer on our team but is still a very important member of our team is graduate assistant Tyler Fenwick. Tyler is always there to make sure everyone is all right and has what they need. He does so much work for our team and for all of that we are all very thankful. Personally, just having him there on the pool deck makes me want to train harder. He believes in every single member of the team that at anytime we can be great.
Those who will be presented on Saturday will be missed everyday on the pool deck, but their traditions will be passed along, just as those before them have been passed, and for that we are all truly grateful.