Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for May, 2010


The College Swim Coaches Association of America hosted their annual convention in Baltimore and invited me to be their keynote speaker to kick off the three day convention. It was an opportunity for me to share the inspiration with those who understand the meaning of what it means to touch a life as a coach.

In all my talks, I discuss the attributes I learned from each of my coaches – all different, each with a vital role in developing who I was as an athlete and who I am as a person. This particular talk was meaningful because one of my coaches was present – and he had the opportunity to hear in the context of my story the role he has played in my journey. I was so glad he was there to hear it (he actually has heard it before – four times, but he’s so humble it will take another four times before believes it). And I started to wonder about my other coaches and how they too might enjoy hearing the important role they played.

Once again, I am reminded that so much in life is about gratitude. Living life with a grateful heart and appreciating all we have, who we have and making sure they know how thankful we are for the gifts they have shared.

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    Last week I “graduated” with my Masters Degree. I put that in quotations, because I didn’t really graduate.
    Yet, the graduation ceremony was awesome. Everything about the USC graduation experience was more than I expected and I am thrilled I made the trip out west to be there in person. But I still have two weeks of classes left…two weeks of teaching in a high school history class, two weeks of papers to write, two weeks to reflect upon all I have learned.

    Over graduation weekend, my husband repeatedly asked, “Can you believe you have your Masters degree?!” Yet, I didn’t feel that way, of course, because I am not done with my coursework. However I started to think about what it actually means: to graduate. It’s not about the diploma. It’s not about a few extra letters at the end of my name. It’s not even about graduation. It’s about the process, the journey and all the work I have done throughout the program. No one piece of paper in a fancy frame (thank Mom & Dad!) means anything without the knowledge gained.

    This realization made me smile for a few reasons. One, you would think I would know this! I talk all the time about the journey – my journey. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the process. Secondly, I realized this is the second time I have ”graduated” without really being done. I walked with my class of 1995 at Notre Dame, but still had a semester of coursework to complete. So while the ceremony is symbolic and an event to remember, it does not create or define the journey and the learning. I think this is important to remember: to celebrate our accomplishments, but to honor the process and knowledge of lessons gained and learned.

    Congratulations to all graduates!


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    It just dawned on me that I have been posting about teachers and teaching recently – which means I must have eduction on my mind. Perhaps it is because I will graduate tomorrow with a Masters of Arts in Teaching – an MAT. This has been a personal goal of mine, but I am not sure I fully appreciated the value and friendships I would find in the program. Many of my thoughts on education have changed over the past 14 months; my exposure to worlds beyond my own have proved invaluable; the important role I have modeled for my own children of being a life-long learner; and the insight gained on issues that had not before affected me. I went back to school to learn how to teach (or perhaps to improve my teaching skills), but what I really gained was the knowledge of how to learn – and the importance of learning.

    It is much different to be a student at 36 than it is at 16. I read more, studied to learn – not just to pass a test, and I wrote pages and pages of papers for enjoyment, not solely for requirement. I am lucky to have found a subject that inspires and excites me. I wish that for everyone.

    I am not sure down what path this degree will take me. But I do know that there is a cohort of MAT@USC students out there who will make a difference in their communities. I too strive for that, in whatever form at whatever place, at whatever time is right. My journey continues…

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    I am sitting in a coffee shop writing a paper that is due this evening. One of my son’s teachers just walked in to buy lunch and I was thrilled to not only see a friendly face but to say thank you for all she does for my child. As I study for a Masters in Teaching, I have had many opportunities to reflect upon the role of a teacher.

    We have all had them: the teacher who changed our lives, the teacher who treated us fairly (and probably a teacher who treated us unfairly), and the teacher who made a difference in our career or educational experience. Academically, teachers are all around us and they are a powerful presence and influence. To those teachers who spend their hours, days and lives educating our children, I say, THANK YOU: you are extraordinary!

    But what about the ”other” teachers in our lives: the mother who teaches her child through her actions, the coach who models fair play and good sportsmanship, the friend who teaches us generousity and selflessness. We all have and need these teachers in our lives – and we can all be this teacher for someone else.

    What will your actions teach someone today?


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    Hanging on the wall in our home is a photograph of my husband on the day of his first communion, standing with his four grandparents. I never met his grandparents, so for me, this picture is who they were. I walk past this picture everyday; I know many of the details on it and every so often I will stop to really look at it and wonder what his grandparents were like – or to see if my children resemble any of them (since they so closely resemble my husband).

    Tomorrow my oldest son makes his first communion. All four of his grandparents are here and I keep thinking about the photograph on our wall. I know tomorrow that we will take a similar picture: James with his four grandparents. And I wonder where that picture will end up: in his home, hanging on his wall, with his wife looking at it and wondering what this day was like for James?

    I hope what she’ll see is what this weekend truly is for him: a celebration. A celebration of his faith, his family & friendships, and of his history & future.

  • Filed under: Blog
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