When Dick Rosenthal retired as athletic director in 1995 after a lifetime of service to the University of Notre Dame, he was asked about the most memorable story of his tenure. Without hesitation, the chief of sports at America's most storied university replied, "Haley Scott."
Haley was an excellent swimmer from the Phoenix area who had gone on from Xavier College Prep to swim for the Fighting Irish. When the Notre Dame women's swim team suffered a fatal bus crash, the lives of those on the bus, their families, and the community were changed forever. Paralyzed after the accident, Haley was told she would never walk again. That was unacceptable to her. With the help of those who cared most about her - her family, her school and her teammates - she chose a different fate and promised not only to walk, but to swim again for the Fighting Irish, which she amazingly accomplished.
Over the years and when she returned to Phoenix to work at Xavier Prep, I had an opportunity to get to know Haley. Over time, I came to understand that the determination, strength and resilience of this woman were just a few of the reasons a collegiate swimmer from Arizona left such a lasting impression on the athletic director of one the most prestigious academic and athletic universities in the nation.
The bus crash of the Notre Dame women's swim team that left two young athletes dead and many injured has drifted from many people's memories. Sixteen years after her injury, Haley has written a book to tell her story and perhaps, just perhaps, motivate some young athlete to persevere and overcome some hardships.
Haley will be returning to her high school alma mater, Xavier College Prep, this week from her home in Annapolis for a book signing, as a mother of two and a voice for hope. Her book can be found on amazon.com through at major bookstores. If you want an autographed copy check with Xavier Prep for information on her appearance on Wednesday September 17th at their campus.
Go here for a review of What Though the Odds and story from Bill Dwyre of the LA Times.
Note: I'm not turning this blog into a continual book review, but I thought Haley's story is timely as the paralympics end quietly in Beijing and our injured soldiers return from their battles overseas. We need to be aware of the effort that Haley and many other fine men and women fight in the halls of hospitals, therapy rooms and in the loneliness of their minds in their pursuit of athletic achievement and recovery.