Swimmer inspires at Loyola

State Notebook

October 01, 2008|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

Phil Scholz is blind, but few have set their goals higher than the Loyola College sophomore who competed last month in the Beijing Paralympics.

"There are nine American records I'd love to break this year," said Scholz, a butterfly specialist. He holds 15 U.S. marks for blind swimmers, including one he set in China.

On his return to campus, Scholz presented the 90 members of Loyola's swim team with jade good-luck charms he bought in Beijing. Six hours after his flight landed, he took part in a 6 a.m. team practice.

"Phil has opened the eyes of a lot of people here," Loyola swim coach Brian Loeffler said. "Yes, he's a short-term inspirational story, but his success here will have a long-term impact, too.

"In the future, should any of his teammates have families of their own with a disabled child, Phil's story will serve as a lesson. This guy represented his country and swam in the same pool as Michael Phelps, so anything is possible."

Grabbing attention

Eleven days ago, Morgan State's Edwin Baptiste made a spectacular one-handed catch before a paltry crowd at Winston-Salem State in North Carolina.

Baptiste's ears have stopped ringing, but his phone has not. While 3,000 people attended the game, nearly 100 times that number have viewed Baptiste's acrobatic reception on YouTube. Moreover, the catch has been featured on ESPN, which sent a crew to interview the Bears' No. 2 receiver last week.

"I'm amazed," Baptiste said of the public response to his acrobatic 40-yard grab on a rain-soaked field. "I must have gotten 100 calls from people who saw it.

"I've probably watched it 10 times myself."

Only 10?

"I'm trying to stay humble," said Baptiste, a junior from Miami.

It was "an unbelievable catch," Morgan coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "I've never seen anyone running full speed, turn in the air, catch the ball in one hand, do a full tumble, land on his head and almost come back on his feet.

"I told [Baptiste] that his name will now resonate with people. In a couple of years, when he goes to apply for a job, someone will say, 'Oh, you're the guy who made that catch.' "

Something fishy

Winning can breed superstition. So it's no surprise that, after 20 straight victories, Salisbury University's volleyball team will take its star out for sushi. Again.

In true Sea Gull fashion, All-American Stacey Krebs dines on raw fish before every match. She'll likely do it again today before Salisbury (20-1) plays at Hood College (1-11).

"Having sushi on game day is tradition for me and [teammate] Jaime Marzocchi," said Krebs, a 6-foot senior from Liberty High. "Now, coach [Margie Knight] makes us do it. But we don't need to be pushed. We love it."

Salisbury's only loss was a season-opening defeat to Juniata, the nation's No. 1 team in Division III.

Helping hands

It has been a bumpy road for Bowie State's football team, 2-2 after four games away from home. Gone are the five-hour bus trips to backwater towns. The Bulldogs host Lincoln University (Pa.) in their home opener at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"It has taken until October for us to wake up in our own beds on game day and play on our own field," Bowie coach Mike Lynn said. "It was taxing, physically and mentally, to spend the first month traveling - those were long bus rides - but our guys did it."

Bowie's players handled themselves with aplomb on the road, the coach said. Last week, en route to Shaw University (N.C.), the team stopped at a Golden Corral in Colonial Beach, Va.

"I'm sitting there, eating," Lynn said, "when this lady comes over and says, "Coach, your gentlemen are very respectful. They helped my 80-year-old mother at the buffet and even carried her plate for her.' "

Lynn thanked the woman.

"The world's perception of young African-American males - and football players - is not very positive," he said. "But that [incident] was typical of my guys."

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