Daughter spurs mother’s interest in swim team

Nancy Luley
Head swim coach/aquatic director
Messiah College

Messiah College is blessed to have a proven winner lead its first intercollegiate swim team, and the College has the most unexpected person to thank for it—the coach’s daughter.

Anne Luley is a determined, highly motivated child who, despite being born with two debilitating birth defects requiring numerous surgeries and extensive medical care, has unknowingly changed the course of her mother’s life, and provided the inspiration Coach Luley needs to lead the inaugural swim team to greatness.

At age six, Anne, who had been participating in an aquatic physical therapy program, responded to a challenge presented by West Shore YMCA swim coach Mike Gobrecht. “He told Anne that if she could swim the entire length of the pool without stopping that she could join the swim team, just like everybody else,” said Luley, who swam competitively in high school. “Honestly, we thought it would be a while. But a couple of months later we were at the Y and Anne shouted to Mike, ‘Watch this!’ and she swam the whole length of the pool. She was six!”

Anyone familiar with Anne’s multiple physical challenges, including, among others, Arnold-Chiari Malformation (a brain defect) and Scoliosis (a spinal malformation), might have been stunned by her aquatic achievement. Those who know Anne realized they had better line up behind her. And so, then stay-at-home mom Nancy Luley became Coach Luley, a volunteer assistant swim coach at the West Shore YMCA. “The group didn’t have a coach, so I volunteered. I wanted to be there for Anne,” said Luley, who with husband Rich has three children in addition to Anne.

Spurred by her daughter’s enduring commitment and exuberance, Luley, a 1977 graduate of Penn State University, continued coaching at the YMCA. Two years later, she accepted an assistant swim coach position at Mechanicsburg High School, later moving to head coach. The Mechanicsburg girls’ team celebrated an undefeated 2007-2008 season.    

Anne, now 21, is one semester away from completing her associate degree in business at Harrisburg Area Community College, and continues to swim for exercise several times a week. And her mom, well, Coach Luley continues to inspire others in honor of Anne. As the Messiah College head swim coach, Luley is determined to bring the inaugural swim team to a level on par with the College’s nationally ranked soccer, basketball, and field hockey teams.

“We hope to be leaders in our conference soon,” said Luley emphatically. “There’s something really special about Messiah College swimmers. Their commitment is strong. They work hard. And the seniors are leaders to the underclassmen and women. It’s really empowering to watch them work so hard at something—just like Anne.”

The Messiah College Falcons swim team is the tenth member of the Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Conference (MAC). Messiah is home to a 25-yard pool that is among the best in its conference. Link here to learn more about the College’s outstanding athletics program.

Posted in Athletics, Faculty, Majors & Minors | 2 Comments »

Posted on December 4th, 2008

2 Responses to “Daughter spurs mother’s interest in swim team”

  1. Harold (Hal) Martin Says:

    I received this from my StepDaughter Brenda Klaczak. Her daughter, our Grandchild, will be joining the “team” starting with the 2009-2010 semester.
    As you know, Angela has been excelling in swimming for the Palmyra Sharks and Palmyra High School Cougers.
    Her Grammy and me “Pap”, are very proud of her Athletics and in particular, her Academic achievements, and are very pleased she chose Messiah for her choice of higher learning.
    We are confidant she will also excell at Messiah under your guidence and training program.
    We loved your story about Annie. Thank you so much for writing such an inpirational story of her overcoming her physical problems with determination and intestinal fortitude.
    May our Loving Lord and Savior continue to bless you and your family, until He comes again.

  2. Nancy Luley Says:

    Angela will be a most welcome addition to the Falcons!


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