Haley Scott DeMaria

Episode 42

18 NOV 2019

In college she was left paralyzed with a broken back after a bus accident involving her swim team from the University of Notre Dame, with two teammates having been killed instantly.  After five back operations and being told she wouldn’t walk, not to mention swim again, miraculously, she returned to competitive swimming for Notre Dame 21 months after the bus accident and her injury.  Her 2008 book, What Though The Odds, details what she went through and her “journey of faith and triumph.”  She later became Assistant Swim Coach at Xavier College Prep, the all-girls Catholic high school in Phoenix that she had attended.  She also talks here about two pilgrimages this and two years ago that she says reignited her faith and commitment to service.

Guest quotes:

“I refer to myself as a Christian mutt because I dabbled in a lot of different aspects of the Christian religion.  And I knew that faith was important.  I knew that prayer was important.  But I didn’t necessarily find a spiritual home.”

“I had my athletic life and then, of course, I had this spiritual life that were very separate as a child and, it’s really just when they come together eventually through life that we reach our full potential.”

“I went to an all-girls Catholic high school because they had the best swim team in the state of Arizona at the time.  And I went to the University of Notre Dame because I really wanted to swim for the coach at the time… So it had very little to do with the fact that they were both Catholic schools, but in hindsight those were two phenomenal institutions that gave me so much more than just an academic education.”

“…the tone that we’re all called to do as Christians, which is to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.”

“Our bus flipped off the side of the road.  It literally did a flip turn, in swimming terms, we flipped upside down and ended up facing the opposite direction…  And I landed on the top of my spine and shattered three vertebrae.”

“I have always believed truly and know – because I felt it – that it was not my faith that got me through this, but it was the faith of everyone around me.”

“It really is a testament to the faith environment where we were.”

“The beauty of my story is that it was awful and life is still beautiful.”

“I think when we can pray together, and we can share our journey and our hardships, it makes us all feel just a little less alone.”

Related link:

Haley’s book website