Towson Swimming And Diving's Relationship With The Special Olympics Is So Important

Towson Swimming And Diving's Relationship With The Special Olympics Is So Important

Supporting such a great foundation has been an incredible experience.

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It is evident that people with an intellectual disability face a difficult, uphill battle to achieve acceptance and other benefits of society that most people take for granted. The Special Olympics is such an important tool for these people, which I have recently had the privilege to learn first hand.

Each year, the Towson swim and dive team helps coach and work personally with a Special Olympics program. We set aside a Saturday morning after practice each month to work with local Special Olympians in the pool. This consists of providing them with practice and helping them complete it to the best of their ability.

Through doing this, I have met so many lovely, genuine people.

Our team coming together to support such an important foundation is truly the best feeling. It is incredibly moving to not only meet the athletes, but actually get to know them. We spend so much time talking and working with these Special Olympic athletes on how to get better, and it makes the meet hosted for them at the end of their season even more heartwarming for us to witness.

This past weekend, our team hosted and competed against Drexel University's swim and dive team. We had a break during the meet to bring in all of our Special Olympians to each race in one event of their choice. From the moment all of them walked onto the pool deck, the joy they brought was naturally contagious. There is just something so sincere about each of these Special Olympians' smiles that when all of them were together sharing the spotlight, the place was radiating positivity. It made me realize that everyone was there to simply celebrate the ability of these people, instead of focus on disability.

The opportunity to help Special Olympians become better at the sport I love made me realize so much. After high school, most Special Olympic athletes do not get the opportunity to compete anymore on teams or individually as I do, which is why unified sports events are so crucial. Teaching these Special Olympic athletes how to compete and seeing how excited they could be reminded me to enjoy the competition I am so lucky to be surrounded with.

The image of our home pool exploding with joy and energy for these Special Olympians who were so proud to be competing in a race is forever engrained in my mind.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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The Anaheim Ducks Are In A World Of Pain

The Ducks have now lost 19 out of their last 21 games amidst a multitude of problems and a rebuild may be at its beginning stages after Randy Carlyle's firing from head coach.

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On December 17, 2018, the Anaheim Ducks had just defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road 4-2, and sat in a playoff spot with a 19-11-5 record, good for 43 points and 2nd in the Pacific Division. Since then, the Ducks have lost 19 out of their last 21 games, going 2-15-4 during that stretch, now sitting at 21-26-9 and 51 points on February 12th, eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. After their last loss, head coach Randy Carlyle was finally axed and general manager Bob Murray stepped in as the interim coach. Many issues exist currently and for the foreseeable future in Anaheim, which could see its first sustained rebuild since the early 2000s, where the team missed the playoffs three years in a row.

One of the Ducks' bigger issues is the lack of goal scoring throughout the lineup. The leading player in goals is forward Jakob Silfverberg, with 12 in 47 games played. That's not enough for a team that is 56 games into the season. The overall points production is quite anemic too. Captain and center Ryan Getzlaf leads the club with 36 points in 50 games, and he is the only player with more than 30 points to this date.

Injuries are also factoring into the equation: center Adam Henrique and defenseman Brandon Montour are the only Ducks to have played in every game this season, with players such as forwards in Silfverberg, Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ondrej Kase as well as defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, and goaltender Ryan Miller all spending at least five games on the injured reserve.

With so many players in and out of the lineup, not to mention that most of the fill-ins are inexperienced at the NHL level, it is hard to develop any sort of chemistry for an extended period of time. Goaltender John Gibson has been unable to maintain grade A performance in net, as his save percentage is now at 0.914, below where he started the season. With all of this considered, the Ducks have a tough future ahead when considering their salary cap situation.

Perry and Getzlaf, both of who will turn 34 in May, have a cap hit of $8.625 and $8.25 million for the next two years after the 2018-19 season, while Kesler, who turns 35 in August, makes $6.825 million for the next 3 years after this season concludes. Perry has only played in five games this year due to injuries, Getzlaf's production is declining and not up to par with how much he is paid, and Kesler has only six points in 48 games, and he also only played in 44 games last season due to injuries, scoring just 14 points.

These expensive contracts are untradeable unless they attach a younger asset in a trade, like prospects Sam Steel, Max Jones, Maxim Comtois, or Troy Terry. It is possible that Kesler and/or Perry will be bought out of their contracts in the offseason, meaning they will save money against the salary cap for the remainder of those contract years, but will have portions of that contract counting against the cap for a few years more.

Despite these bad contracts which currently prevent the Ducks from signing more than one big free agent, the aforementioned prospects will most likely see more substantial time in Anaheim next season, which could boost the club, but it is unlikely that any of them take the league by storm to make the Ducks a contender again. For this to happen, young forwards like Rakell, Kase, and Daniel Sprong will have to exceed expectations, while the defensive core will also need to step it up compared to their performance this, which makes them look overpaid.

As it stands, the Ducks are 4th in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery and could see a highly touted prospect come to Anaheim next year, but the current roster and prospect core will need bounce back seasons or the management group will be forced to blow up much of the roster, which would almost guarantee missing the playoffs again.

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