A Culture Unlike Any Other: Team Impact Starring Josie Coronado

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Photo Courtesy: Arizona Swimming and Diving

By Emma Schoettmer, Swimming World College Intern

When I hear the phrase team impact, I don’t have an immediate thought that comes to mind. However, after this past season, swimming with the women’s program at the University of Arizona, I got a taste of what that phrase actually means.

Delve into the heart of Arizona’s team, you will find a young girl striving for normality in her life. She found just that through the young women on Arizona’s swimming and diving team.

Josie Coronado is your typical 6-year-old-girl. She has energy, she loves accessories, and she loves to spend time with Arizona women’s swim team.

However, Josie is one of countless children battling cancer, specifically Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In the spring of 2015, Josie signed her honorary National Letter of Intent with the Wildcats. Josie became a wildcat for life and through the process she gained countless big sisters on the women’s swim team.

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Photo Courtesy: Arizona Swimming and Diving

What is Team Impact?

Team Impact is a community service action plan that is ongoing. The purpose of Team Impact is to allow an entire team to become role models for a child in need. Josie has become the Arizona’s swimming and diving team’s inspiration. As a student-athlete, many people in the country have their eyes on you. Using this platform, a team is able to demonstrate what they are all about to leave a lasting influence on those in their community and specifically, on a new teammate. Displaying pride in your school, strength in your sport, and setting an example for children in your community are the main focuses of Team Impact.

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Photo Courtesy:Joanna Coronado

Love at First Sight

When Josie first stepped onto the pool deck, she was shy and nervous. Now, after months of interactions with the Arizona swim team, she has found her second family. The point of incorporating Josie into the team was to help Josie overcome her fears and struggles while battling cancer, however, she was also able to impact the team in a big way. She exudes the meaning of the Wildcat mantra “Bear Down,” and the sisters she has acquired see that. The interactions between the girls and Josie are forging bonds that will last a lifetime.

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Photo Courtesy: Bonnie Brandon

“This little lady and her beautiful smile remind me every day to see the sunshine through the clouds! Love you Josie!”

Bonnie Brandon, UA All-American

A Culture Unlike Any Other

Some things that we take for granted today are often simple. The most recent adventure Josie experienced with her sisters was a night out on the town. After undergoing necessary procedures for her battle against cancer, Josie lost one thing that meant the world to her: her hair.

As a little girl, it would be devastating to not have long hair, so to bring a smile to Josie’s face; the women’s team operated their quick reflexes to beautify the young girl for her night out.

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Photo Courtesy: Sam Getzen

Another day was spent at the pool, where the girls began to teach Josie how to swim. The experience was memorable, the process was scary, but in the end, Josie was finally beginning to live again.

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Photo Courtesy: Arizona Swimming and Diving

Her first day back at school, she had her team there, stepping through the doors as a unit. She is fighting a battle that most of us will never understand; yet she demonstrates a graceful poise and never stops being a child through it all. Her courage is insurmountable and her image is the epitome of what a Lady Wildcat strives to be.

The impact the University of Arizona swimming and diving team have had on this little girl is astounding. A bond has formed between the girls and Josie, which has opened doors for courage to blossom, determination to set in, admiration to be respected and an inner drive ablaze in their hearts. This team knows how to Bear Down together!