Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for October, 2009


It has been sad to hear the news over the past month about some of Notre Dame’s football opponents. Beginning with Boston College (who the Irish play tomorrow) football player, Mark Herzlich, who is battling a rare form of cancer. It was announced a few weeks ago on ESPN that he was 99% sure the cancer was gone, but he still has a long road to recovery. A long road back to the football field.
It reminded me about my own journey and how, once I could walk again I still had an uphill battle to fight to get back in the pool. Even when the first and largest hurdle is overcome, there are still more in the way up ahead.
Last week Notre Dame played USC – another team with a suffering teammate, Stafon Johnson, who crushed his throat with a weight bar in the training room. And next month, the Irish play Connecticut who recently lost teammate Jasper Howard due to a tragic stabbing.
Three families whose lives have been turned upside down in tragedy.
Three athletes whose lives will never be the same.
I hope they are able to find their “new normal” and I pray their new normal finds them surrounded by three of the most powerful forces: family, faith and friendship.
I know Mark Herzlich will feel it tomorrow as he takes to the field at Notre Dame Stadium and is honored before the ND-BC football game. He may be a Golden Eagle, but he’s got the Fighting Irish on his side as he fights to win the competition of his life.

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  • I think I have mentioned before how my husband once asked me, as I was preparing for a talk, “Dont you just say the same thing each time?” Of course not!

    This week I spent two days presenting at a Leadership Academy where I told my story through the lens of how to be a “leader.” It was an interesting perspective upon which for me to reflect – and one I had not viewed before. While I am aware of and can articulate some of the leadership roles I have now (Vice President of the Notre Dame Monogram Club, Parents’ Association Chair at my sons’ school, etc…) it was a challenge to go back and look at a time when I wasn’t necessarily a “leader” in the traditional sense of the word, and then to build a presentation about it.

    It is very clear to me now that I used to live a my very Haley-centric role during my healing. This was easier for me, and almost essential to my emotional well-being. It was too difficult for me to look beyond myself when it took all my energy and effort to learn to walk. Yet, in a very real way, I had lead a campus and a community through the healing process just by the nature of my recovery. Did that make me a leader? What is a leader?

    I believe the best way to lead is by example. We all know too many people who say one thing and do another. A leader is more honest than that, in both their words and actions. It is one of the reasons I do not say the same thing each time. Because I need to lead my audience in a believable and meaningful way through my story of faith and triumph. We can all be leaders if we are true to ourselves and genuine in our outreach. Those aren’t things you can just tell someone; you have to live your life that way.

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    I am a couple of days late with birthday wishes for my dad, but that is one of the best things about him: he knows how much I love and appreciate him everyday, and not just on his birthday. (Plus, he was on a father-son trip, and I am in a non-internet location, so I am not sure he even noticed…)

    I think this is a great lesson for us all to keep in mind: don’t get hung up on the minutia of life. When you see the greater picture of love, health, safety and happiness, the details are what makes us unique, but the fundamentals are what provide us with happy and meaningful lives.

    My dad has always been this way: thinking ahead, keeping in mind his goals and the bigger picture, and of course taking care of his family. I would not have healed the way I did – emotionally – had my father not taken care of the medical logistics and details of my day-to-day recovery.

    In the book I write about how my dad and I never really talked about the accident; that was my mom’s job. I am often asked, “Do you and your dad talk about it now?” And the answer is the same: No. And that’s the way it should be – because that is who my dad is, and who he is not.

    He sees me healthy; he knows I am happy; and for him there is no reason to relive a dark time. Reliving it is now my job. But I like to think of it as sharing – not a dark time – but the hope and blessings that have come from it.

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    When I last blogged about the Million Dollar Egg McMuffin, I left out one really cool fact about the morning: Lyn St. James. It was intentional – not to slight her, but to give her full credit in her own blog entry. Whereas I was the alumni speaker at Xavier’s “X” Breakfast, Lyn St. James was the keynote speaker. And I think we made a pretty great duo.

    First of all, it was a thrill just to meet her – let alone share the stage with her. She too attended an all-girls high school and learned many of the same principal values that I did at Xavier, including “you can do whatever you set your mind to.” This proved essential to my recovery, and to her career in the predominantly male sport of racecar driving.

    I loved her messsage: “I didn’t just want to beat the boys. I just wanted to win.” It wasn’t a battle of the sexes in her mind; it was a battle of the wheels. And she wanted to be the best.

    In a way, this conflicts with a message I often share: “It’s not always about winning the race, it’s about the journey.” But actually, I believe this is exactly what Ms. St. James was saying as well. Her journey was to be the best she could be, and that often took her across the finish line first. It also took her to places that no one thought she could go, and to do things that no one thought she could do. And that, certainly, is a journey I know as well.


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