My name is Madeline High and I am a senior on the women’s team. It is difficult to describe how much Tribe swimming means to me because I would not be the person I am today without it. It has been my second family and one of the only places where I truly feel comfortable being exactly myself. Tribe swimming means walking out onto the pool deck after a tough day and hearing someone yell “MAD DAWG” from across the pool, causing my mood to skyrocket and all my worries to melt away. Tribe swimming means shoving ice cream into my face until my mouth goes numb in order to win the Vermonster, because the love I have for my Tribe is greater than any brainfreeze I could ever encounter. Tribe swimming means reading an entire sheet of nice things my teammates wrote about me to get me pumped up for my midseason meet. All of my best memories in college are from being with the swim team--whether that be rain or shine, in Williamsburg or Florida. I know I have sixty current teammates and hundreds of alumni who will always have my back. There is something special about Tribe swimming, and anyone who spends five minutes with our team can feel that magic.
Tribe swimming has been my identity here. When I meet someone on campus, a professor or another student, the first thing I mention is that I am a swimmer because I am so proud to be a member of this team and honored to be associated with the kind of people on it. Tribe swimming has given me my best friends and the greatest mentors, and I have learned something from every teammate I have ever swam alongside.
With that being stated, my incredible Tribe and my entire identity was ripped away in a five minute zoom meeting where the athletic director heartlessly read off a teleprompter, never once looking into the camera, to tell me that it was all over. To add insult to injury, the last time she actually looked us in the eyes was in October to tell us we were valued members of the community and that our team was not leaving anytime soon. She even dared to tell us that she cared so much about us, we were her “children.” Again, in June, we were reassured the team would not be cut. It breaks my heart that for all the young swimmers and high school seniors who are realizing their dream of swimming in college will not include the Tribe family as an option. The Tribe swimming community is so strong that our fate will not be decided by the careless decision of someone who does not comprehend the meaning of “One Tribe, One Family.”