November 22, 2016
A letter from Lea to fellow Badger Alumni.
Badger taught me how to hunt down “happily ever after”.
Yesterday – How is it that I woke up at 5 am in the morning and it ended up being the best part of my day, if not my life? I loved, loved, loved going to swim practice. This statement is especially astounding when I catalog the crazy, intense and challenging swim sets that greeted me once we plunged into the pool. Why did I love it so much? The Badger Nation made it not only bearable but enjoyable. We made “the hard” fun together. To everyone who was a part of Badger Nation in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, every one of you inspired me to work hard, laugh often, read Page 6, chase dreams down and create (and tell) great stories every day.
Today – I am a successful and happy mom with a swimming backstory I am proud to have created with the help of a lot of people. As a swimmer, I earned a scholarship to Stanford, won multiple National titles, won Olympic medals and a World Championship in the 100 backstroke. As a coach, I got to share all I’ve learned with swimmers at all levels from age group to the Olympics. I trace the origins of these accomplishments to Badger. I am incredibly thankful that my parents made the financial stretch to sign me up to swim at Badger when I was 10 years old. I am the 6th of 7 kids who all pursued athletic and academic dreams and our family did not have great financial resources to do “extras”. Badger was worth it. I am not sure how I can pay back John Collins for what he gave me and my family. But, I know I want to try to give other kids like me the opportunities that set my life on a path that has been an amazing journey.
Did you know that Badger is starting a scholarship program this year to provide opportunities for swimmers with particular talent as well as those based on need? It costs about $7,500 for a swimmer to be able to swim at Badger for a year – dues, entry fees and travel. My family and the other members of the Board are going to donate on #GivingTuesday because we want to sponsor these scholarships for future generations of swimmers. I believe that if an athlete swims on Badger Swim Club their chances of reaching their potential goes up dramatically and are as high as any other program in the country. I can’t wait to see what the Badgers can do over the next 4 years and beyond.
Tomorrow – If we asked John, “What are we doing today?” then we got a reply that really tells a lot about what Badger Swim Club is trying to accomplish with its program. John’s answer – “The same thing we do every day – try to be the best in the world!” That mindset has help Badger’s like Rick Carey, Tobie Smith, Mimosa McNerney, Jenny Thompson, Christina Teuscher, Cody Miller and so many more reach their potential. It will guide future Badgers to greatness.
We are reaching out to Badger Nation because as John so aptly stated in a team meeting years ago, Badger Swim Club is like The Hotel California – “You can check out anytime- but you can never leave!”
Badger Swim Club and John Collins gave all of us so much that help shape who we were as swimmers and as people – LET’S GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO BADGER – and make him smile!
$33 in honor of 3300
$50 in honor of 50×100
$400 in honor of 10×400
$1,650 in honor of the 1650
$9,500 – Grand Prix anyone?
You get the idea ….
Happy Holidays and Go Badger!
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