Schoolmates think Nall's win was a hoot

HEROINE'S WELCOME

March 09, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The sign on the wall above the main entrance indicated that this would be a special day at Towson Catholic Prep.

It read: "ANITA NALL -- All TC will be 'hooting' for you in Barcelona."

The TC Owls -- more than 125 students and faculty members, all clutching small American flags -- turned out at 8 o'clock today to welcome the new world record-holder in the 200-meter breaststroke on her first day back at school following the U.S. Olympic swimming trials last week in Indianapolis.

Smiling, Nall arrived wearing a North Baltimore Aquatic Club jacket, with her hair still wet from a morning shower.

In a 15-minute celebration in the gym that started with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem, the 15-year-old sophomore was greeted by applause from the students and yells by the cheerleaders. A half-dozen whirring media cameras recorded it all.

"You have brought honor to the school," said Towson Catholic's principal, Dr. Andy Dotterweich. "We hope you'll continue to be a good role model."

In recognition of Nall's achievement of breaking the world record twice in one day, signs hung from the gym walls: "Go For The Gold," "Barcelona '92," "Barcelona Bound" and "Two For The Record Book."

The cheerleaders worked up a special cheer for the occasion. "Go, Anita, go!" they screamed. "Go, A-N-I-T-A, go!"

Then the students stood in a large circle and passed around a homemade Olympic torch topped by yellow cellophane to simulate a flame. Nall was presented two mock gold medals on ribbons by athletic director Colleen Cox.

"These are TC gold medals," Cox said of the chocolate candy disks covered with gold paper. "My daughter picked them out. It says 'Happy Easter' on them."

The reception for Nall grew out of the Towson Catholic pep rally before she left for the trials. The pep rally wasn't only for her, but also forthe cheerleaders and the boys basketball team that won the Catholic League championship.

When Nall returned to Baltimore Saturday, she was taken out to VTC lunch by family and friends and served what the restaurant called a "gold medalist" drink of various fruit juices. Yesterday she attended a swimming meet at Towson State and signed about 100 autographs.

Although the school tried to keep the plans for today's reception a secret from Nall, she sensed something was afoot. "I knew Dr. Dotterweich would do something," she said.

Shortly before 9 a.m., Nall returned to the real world. She walked down the hall with her friends to a class in Western Civilization.

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