This week Grace received a special award in our community from her mentor and swim coach, Marj Trifone. Swimming has been a real bright spot for Grace. Below is the text of Marj’s comments.
I am honored to present this special award tonight, the Mike Sangster Team Spirit Award. As you all know, I started my career as a summer coach here at Middlesex and had the opportunity to coach with Mike Sangster. When you think of Mike, you think of integrity, high expectations, intense competitor, tenacious work ethic, and a man who put the importance of team above all. Under all that tough exterior, he had a big heart and always wanted the best for others.
This year’s winner swam for me two years as a 7 and 8 year old. She continued to swim after I left and went to Woodway as she had developed a passion for swimming and a love for this team and being a contributing member of it. Several years ago this individual was diagnosed with a condition that would change her life. She had to fight her way back with determination and toughness that Mike Sangster would have been proud of. Last year I was able to get her back in the water. At first she did not have the confidence that she could swim again. We swam together on Saturdays and Sundays and sometimes during the week. After a while I asked her to swim in a White Meet. She did it! She swam in a White Meet at Roton Point and was cheered on by her teammates, we were all so proud of her that day. By the time the annual “Swim for Grace” came around, she was able to swim one mile using one side of her body.
This year I asked her to swim in our regular swim practice with the same age group that she used to swim with. I cannot imagine how difficult that first practice must have been as she joined her Middlesex fiends and teammates for the first times in 3 years. She came to the 11 and over practice on a regular basis. She trained on intervals, sharing a lane with her peers. She participated in the “Whacky Relays” and in Fun Fin Fridays in addition to our regular challenging practices. She also attended swim meets to cheer on her teammates. Tomorrow she will once again swim in the Swim for Grace Fundraiser.
I could not be more proud of the accomplishments she has been able to achieve through both physical and mental toughness. This swimmer represents every courage quote you have ever read, everything you have been afraid to do and never did. She has a “can-do” attitude that we strive for. This individual embodies a favorite saying of mine: What the mind believes, the body achieves.”
Katie Orem a backstroker at UPENN watched Grace swim for the first time when she joined our coaching staff and she commented on how inspired she was to watch her swim. Many of us receive awards throughout our life and we hang them up or put them on a shelf, and they represent that we did an exceptional job at something. They also are a constant reminder to us to keep going and striving to do our personal best at everything we do. I hope this award inspires Grace Wohlberg each day as she has inspired all of us.
To see Grace swim click here.