Swim team adds new Owl to roster

Team Impact, Hole in the Wall Gang help a young swimmer ‘feel normal’

Hunter O. LyleSports Editor

Surrounded by her family and her new team, 13-year-old Morgan Nunez sat at her own press conference and signed her official letter of intent, officially making her an Owl.

With the help of Team Impact, Hole in the Wall Gang and Southern Connecticut State University, the women’s swim team was able to add a new addition to their roster in Nunez, who will be filling the role of a pseudo-team captain.

“The team spirit that you bring to the pool deck, it’s invaluable, and I know it’s going to play a huge role,” said head coach Tim Quill, “not only this year but over the next couple of years, so welcome to our program.”

At the age of 5, Nunez was diagnosed with a rare and incurable neurological disease called clinical isolated syndrome, which is under the umbrella of multiple sclerosis, but according to her mother Nicole, she does not show all the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Morgan started swimming at the age of 6, and, since it was such a big part of her life and helped her feel normal, her mother reached out to an organization called Hole in the Wall Gang. According to their official website, Hole in the Wall Gang is dedicated to, “providing ‘a different kind of healing’ to seriously ill children and their families throughout the Northeast, free of charge.”

“The transition to Hole in the Wall [Gang] was excellent. Even to this day, I can just sing their praises,” said Nicole Nunez. “They have been so good to us as a family and Morgan, and then they actually referred us to their Team Impact department, because, after talking to them, they know what Morgan likes to do and what she’s involved in.”

Partnered with Hole in the Wall Gang and Team Impact, a non-profit that connects ill children with collegiate athletic programs, Southern was able to bring the Nunez family in for an official celebration. However, this was not the first time the Nunez’s had met with the team.

“[At the beginning of the season,] we had [Morgan] come in the first day and just meet two or three of the young ladies, then she actually came in and cheered on the team for one of our home meets. Last week, she hopped in the water and did half a workout with the women’s program on a Monday afternoon,” said Quill, “and this is just the beginning of it, and, you know, what’s great about it is that the team spirit that she actually exhibits and brings to the pool deck is completely invaluable — something that you don’t find every day.”

While Morgan Nunez is typically busy, as she competes in swimming and cross country at her own school, Erin Lierey, a senior, said Morgan is always welcome to be with the team when she can.

“Whenever she’s free, we would love for her to come and practice with us,” said Lierey, “and we do a lot of stuff like going out to Moe’s on Monday, and we’d like to invite her there too, and just get to experience what we get to experience being on the Southern swim team.”

At the end of the press conference, as Morgan was leading chants and posing for photos among a mob of swimmers, her mother took a moment to thank everyone who helped make this dream a reality.

“I think I’m overwhelmed because there’s been things that she’s been through, and to be able to just be normal for her,” said Nicole Nunez, “I just can’t explain how that feels as a parent. So, thank you Southern and coach and [the] team.”

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