Wingate Swimming learns valuable life lessons through Heart for Monroe partnership

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Wingate University Swimming junior student-athlete Tripp Wright (Cypress, Texas) has learned many lessons both inside and outside the pool during his time as a Bulldog student-athlete. One thing is certain, he knows where his coaches and teammates stand on the topic of service to others.

“One of the biggest things I have learned while swimming for head coach Kirk Sanocki is the importance of giving back,” Wright says. “From the very beginning of the recruiting process, Coach Sanocki expresses the importance of being united and helping those whom we encounter in life.”

Wright learned about the Heart for Monroe 5K by chance. “About a year ago, I came across a flyer for the Heart for Monroe 5K,” Wright remembers. “This is a day which is geared towards giving back to the community and touching the lives of the kids who make up the future generation.”

Wright and his teammates decided they wanted to be involved. “The whole team was on board and thrilled to be a part of something like this,” Wright says. “At first, we were not totally sure how things would pan out, but now it is something we hope to be a part of for years to come.”

The Wingate University men’s and women’s swimming teams have volunteered for the Heart for Monroe 5K run two years in a row. Wright believes the partnership is a successful one. “When we arrived (in Downtown Monroe) to check in and get prepared for the run last Saturday, it was cold and starting to rain,” Wright says. “I could feel our energy levels starting to lower…but just about that time…the kids showed up with their smiling faces…and we knew we were at the right place.”

Wingate senior team captain Olga Kosheleva (Yekaterinburg, Russia) recalls her first encounter with her Saturday, March 18 running buddy. “My buddy wore a black hoodie and gray pants,” Kosheleva says. “Once I saw him, I felt that he is a very serious guy. He seemed to have a lot of friends, because whenever he saw someone he knows he would call their name and nod with a serious face.”

Kosheleva tried to convince her buddy to stay with her during the race. “As the time of our race came closer, I tried to tell him to stay together at all times,” she says. “He looked at me with his brown eyes showing me his understanding and nodded again.”

As the pre-race countdown started, Kosheleva and her new friend made one more connection. “Everyone was getting excited and eager to run,” she says. “I repeated to him…’let’s stay together’…and he nodded at me one more time.”

“The sound of the starting signal went off and the only thing I could see was that familiar black hoodie sprinting its way forward probably 15 yards in front of me,” Kosheleva says. “I was barely catching up for a few minutes and I am a college student-athlete! It was funny for me to see how serious he was prior to the race and then how excited and eager to race he was after the signal sounded.”

Wright tells a similar story. “As we paired up with our running buddies, the smiles and laughter began…a day which we had all been long awaiting,” he says. “Many of the kids looked us in the eyes and told us we better keep up because they were going to win, with or without us, which you find funny at the beginning until you have to run as fast as you can when they decide to leave you in the dust.”

“As the race continued, sometimes stamina lacked and some of the swimmers picked up their buddies to give them a piggyback ride,” Wright says. “This instantly revitalized energy levels.”

Wright believes the partnership between Wingate Swimming and the Heart for Monroe organization is a win-win for both parties. “While this is a great opportunity for us to make a positive impact on the runners’ lives, all too often, we are the ones who walk away changed for the better,” Wright says. “Even though we may start off as strangers from the beginning, this all changes during the race. More often than not, before the run is even over, we are already asking each other if the other will come next year.”

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1 comment

  1. Marissa says:

    Great post. I’m facing a couple of these issues.

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