Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for June, 2009


I attended and spoke at a conference today that stresses the importance of coaches in the lives of young athletes. Not just coaches as coaches, but coaches as role models. This was a great talk for which to prepare because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on what my own coaches had taught me, and how in turn that impacted my life.

I usually briefly touch on my former coaches when I tell my story, but tonight allowed me to go a bit more in depth about the coach who taught me that you have to love what you do, in this case it was swimming, and the coach who not only made me work hard, but instilled in me the desire to want to work hard. Just those two lessons alone have carried me far in life – in what is most meaningful in life.

The Play Like A Champion Today conference also addresses the issue of coaches who have the ”win at all costs” mentality. This too is a great topic for me to discuss. It was a painful lesson for me to learn that I would no longer win races – no matter how good the reason was. Yet with as far as I have come and with as much as I have acheived, it would be hard to say I didn’t win. It might not be the race I wanted to win at the time, but it’s a much more important one. 

Tonight as I stood in front of a group of dedicated individuals who devote their lives to the betterment of our youth, I won. Being able to share with them the tangible evidence of the difference a coach can make in one’s life was my trophy, my medal, my first place ribbon. That’s more than enough for me.

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    This past week I was at a book event and I was – as usual – asked about the relationship between my mom and me, and my relationship with my sister. But every so often, and this week was one, I am asked about my dad. In fact, it was less of a question and more of a comment: “It sounds like you had the perfect parent to help you through this.”

    I responded by talking about how I had the perfect parents, first discussing my mom’s ability to understand a completely dependent child through her training and life-long career as an early childhood educator. But this person happened to be a lawyer herself, and she was referring to my father the attorney, about whom I was happy to talk as well. Especially when I was asked the question, “How in the world did you find Dr. Garfin?” My dad, of course! He took care of everything I needed, pre-internet, by spending hours on the phone researching.

    There is a unique relationship between a father and a daugther, and my dad and I are no different. I used to look more like him than I do now (I look more and more like my mom as I grow older), but our personalities are extremely similar. I am just like my dad. We may have different interests (those line up more along with my mom’s), but our temperment and personalities are pretty similar. Because of this, we understand each other – often times – without having to actually say what we are thinking. There is a level of understanding and communication that only comes from a shared way of thinking.

    My dad is also a link to understanding the world of goodness and caring. In his job he meets with different people each day – and never does a week go by that someone does not ask how I am doing. They may remember my name, they may not. They may remember the nature of my injury, they might not. But complete strangers, yet members of the community in which I grew up, remember that my father had a daughter who was injured. And they still care. They still care enough to remember and to inquire. I find that awesome and inspiring.

    My dad might never say it, but I know it is comforting to him to know that people still care about our family. My dad might not say a lot of things, but that is just one small difference that we do have, because I will:

    HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!!!! Thank you for the many, many gifts you have given me and the examples you have shown me. Love, H.Adella

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    Today was the last day of school for my boys. As we drove home after closing school chapel (one of my favorite traditions at St. Anne’s), I looked in my rear-view mirror and was surprised at what I saw.

    As I am singing – okay, belting – outloud, “School’s out for summer!” and “Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!” both of my children looked sad. Huh? It’s SUMMER!

    And yet, what a compliment to the school and their teachers. They were sad that school had ended. They love school. And what a gift to a parent, to know that my children are so happy and so well cared for at a place where they spend so much time away from us.

    This is exactly what I was looking for when I was looking at schools: a community that was safe, caring and nurturing. How lucky to have found it.

    As we continued to drive away from school, I too started thinking about friends and teachers – and some who are both – whom I will miss this summer, and I began to understand a little bit of what my children were feeling. I too draw strength from my friends at their school and I too will look forward to August when we return, refreshed and ready to start all over again the busyness of the school year.

    Tomorrow we leave for a long weekend with a few families from our school. Again, we will celebrate the end of school – and I know my boys will be happy because their friends will be there. Thankfully, some of mine will too!

    We have a busy June in our home, so summer “vacation” won’t really begin until July and August. But I hope you (and your children) have a wonderful summer with your family and friends, taking time to remember these special people and times together.

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    I spent the evening at a Catechist recognition dinner at my parish, St. Mary’s. I have taught Sunday school for the past two years and tonight was asked to speak as a testimony to giving back. What an easy talk for me!

    On my way home, I had a voicemail from my mom. My cell phone is testy at best and apparently does not like me to talk in the car (that’s probably a good thing), as I am often losing my signal and the connection to my caller. But I called her back anyway and she asked, as she always does, “How did it go?”

    “How did it go?” This is always a difficult question for me to answer. I am not one to self-proclaim, “I was great!” Nor am I one to down play the importance of my story and my message. Thankfully it is no longer hard for me to gauge how a talk is received. Because the audience rarely differs.

    When I was in Phoenix last Fall – giving five talks in four days! – my mom witnessed what I had seen: an audience that listens intensely, does not talk, and barely moves during my presentation. With little more than a slightly agreeing nod or the wiping of a tear, there is little expression to decipher what each listener is hearing. But they are listening, and they are hearing what I say. And usually, they are processing – or trying to process – the depth and magnitude of what I share. It is a lot to digest, especially tonight, when most people had not read my book nor heard any version of my story.

    How did it go? It was powerful. Powerful for me to share my faith and my hope. And powerful for them to hear how their goodness of giving back can truly impact one’s life. To my mother I answered, “You know, it was the same.” But in this case, “the same” is good. It’s great. It’s powerful – and feel lucky and inspired going to bed, knowing that I might have touched a few more lives.

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