May 17, 2022

Filled with sadness and pride

I could start out by saying 2020 has been quite a year — an understatement to be sure.  But, I won’t because we all already know that.  What I am going to write about is the grace, courage, and dignity I witnessed tonight (Thursday, Nov. 5) as the Newton High School swimmers found out they were not going to be able to compete at their state qualifying meet on Saturday due to the decision to switch to remote learning.  I have been the head coach of the girls’ swimming program in Newton for 28 years — and, I have been blessed.  Keep reading to find out why.

Sure, there were tears at the news. And hugs. And what-ifs. But, what I will remember most of all is how we went around in a circle and shared positives about each other. Words like “resilient” and”glowing” and “role model” and “composed” flowed like the water we trained in every single day. The determination to lift each other up outweighed the negative news,and the mental toughness that is one of our team’s core values was on full display. We decided that COVID could not take away the hard work of the season. Or the team chemistry we purposefully work on daily to become a big H2O family. Or the character that is forged by the nature of our sport. Training for swimming is tough and sometimes boring and always challenging. For any of you reading this, there are plenty of kids who still have work ethics — they are called Aquagirls!

I write this with a mix of sadness and pride. Sadness that we were unable to finish the end of our season, and pride in the way our athletes handled the news. Our team is composed of 36 girls. Eleven of these Newton swimmers were going to represent us on Saturday. The opportunity is gone, but in the words of the magnificent Martin Luther King, Jr, “we must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Every single athlete on our team will go onto achieve great things. They will be strong community members, good family people, and excellent employees or CEO’s — so, this is not the end. For me, hope lies in them — that I had the opportunity to coach them, and most importantly, to be a part of their lives. In the 1700s, essayist Alexander Pope wrote “hope springs eternal” and those words couldn’t be more relevant today in so many ways. Take heart, friends. Embrace hope. I saw it with my own eyes tonight and wanted to share it with all.

Sarah Patterson

NHS Head Girls’ Swim Coach