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September 19, 2012

Despite obstacles, Foley swim team maintains ‘great attitude’

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Bishop Foley swim team members cheer on teammate Marissa Medici. Foley is in the Catholic High School League, which has some formidable foes.

Though Madison Heights Bishop Foley’s girls swim program hasn’t yet reached the elite level of a few of its Catholic Leauge rivals, it has something else special going for it.

“We have a lot of heart,” said Foley coach Kaye Chervenak. “The girls that are part of the team are very positive and come in with a great attitude. It’s not ‘winning’s the most important thing.’ It’s about, ‘I want to do my best, and I want to encourage my teammates. I want to get other girls to be a part of this program, so they can experience the joys sports bring and the health benefits.’ The girls all want this program to succeed.”

And Chervenak believes she has a group of girls who demonstrate the kind of character that can’t be measured by championship banners hanging on a wall.

Chervenak points out senior Alyssa Brozek as a prime example. Brozek had a goal of making the state meet prior to suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery and will sideline her for the entire season.

Despite the injury, Brozek has made an effort to be an asset to her team in other ways, helping to coach and offering encouragement.

“My aspect is, I might as well use my talents to help other girls, so they can succeed like I succeeded in my swimming career,” she said. “If I can help them swim well, I feel a lot better since I can’t swim. For a really good swim team, you got to be positive.”

Whereas most rosters are likely to have at least 20 swimmers, Foley will probably take to the water with no more than eight for the entire season. Some of the girls enter the program with little to no competitive experience.

And Foley will be competing against several of the state’s top squads in league competition, including Farmington Hills Mercy (Division 1 defending state champ) and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood (the Division 3 state champion).

To make things even more difficult, there is no pool at Foley, so the team practices at Madison Heights Lamphere High School, with one home meet scheduled at Cranbook.

Due to the costs involved with being part of the swim team, fundraising events are held to assist those who wish to be part of the swim team. The support of parents, alumni and the school administration also help keep Foley’s swim program in tact.

Despite the obstacles they have faced, the Ventures swim on. Chervenak believes that the challenges the program has endured helps to offer up some valuable life lessons.

“We focus a lot on skills that are going to carry with them far beyond the pool, such as teamwork, leadership, self-discipline (and) having swimmers reach peak performance,” she said. “It just matters that they did their personal best. What’s great about the girls is they know academics is the No. 1 priority, and sports comes second. It’s nice that it’s not just about the sport; it’s about kind of the whole person — academics, sportswise, spiritually. We’ll do a team mass in October. We focus on building the whole person.”

Chervenak, who is in her fourth year at the helm, has long-term ambitions for the program. One of the steps taken to help strengthen Foley’s program is an off-season swim camp for 7th- and 8th-graders, as well as one for those in high school.

The camp is an effort to help build the program, and one Chervenak hopes will pay dividends.

She has a definite idea as to what she hopes the future of the program looks like.

“We would love to have a roster of 20 girls,” Chervenak said. “We would love to add diving. We would love to be competitive in the Catholic League, and turn our seasons into winning more than losing. That’s the long-term goal for us. It’s just going to take some time.”

Foley’s next meet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 27. against Lamphere at Lamphere High School.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.