Toledo Swimmer Overcomes Injury, Finds Opportunity for Leadership

January 26, 2024 | Athletics, News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters
By Rachel Rusnak

In a world full of uncertainty, where the promise of an athletic collegiate career can be taken away at any moment, there are moments when one’s choices become not just reflections of their past, but pathways for their future.

Lucie Morris is thankful for the choice she made at the height of the COVID pandemic to attend The University of Toledo. Her decision continues to exceed her expectations and opportunities.

Photo of UToledo swimmers, from left, Kennedy Lovell and Lucie Morris.

UToledo swimmers, from left, Kennedy Lovell and Lucie Morris. Following her season-ending injury, Morris joined Lovell on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“I think as far as my time here at Toledo, I don’t think I could have gotten luckier,” said Morris, a junior from Arcanum, Ohio. “Everything that anyone has ever told me about this place has been true and has been even more than I ever thought it would be.”

Morris accepted an offer from Head Coach Brie Globig to join the Toledo women’s swimming and diving team and enrolled at UToledo in the fall of 2021.

Morris began her freshman year by following a strict schedule of classes and training, but when she injured her shoulder at a mid-season meet that all changed. The injury ended her season and ultimately required surgery to correct. Since her surgery in March of 2022, Morris went through more than a year of rehab. She returned to the pool in time for the 2023 Mid-American Conference meet and has been in the lineup ever since.

The ordeal did not deter her spirit. In fact, she reflects on that night that changed the course of her freshman year. In the car ride to the emergency room following her injury, Morris was grateful to have her parents and trainer there with her to help her keep her spirits up.

“You work your whole life to become a Division-I athlete,” Morris said. “To have that taken away from you so quickly, it tests you on who you are when what you do is no longer possible. My dad told me, ‘You have 48 hours to be sad about this, but when you’re back with your team on campus, you are going to walk into practice, and you are going to be a good teammate.’ ”

Morris went through physical therapy and was on deck during swimming practices and meets for the remainder of her freshman season. She was also rebuilding herself both mentally and discovered that being a collegiate athlete is not just about individual accomplishments but about the bonds forged within a program.

Headshot of Lucie Morris.

Morris is a junior majoring in communications studies.

“One word to describe the team dynamic is passionate,” Morris said. “It is fun being around a group of girls who continually push each other in the pool and hold each other to such high standards in the classroom.”

Morris confided in her childhood friend and Rocket teammate, then senior Emma Sampson, to focus on something outside of her schoolwork and swimming. Sampson was the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at the time, and Morris tagged along for the weekly meetings. The NCAA created SAAC to assemble groups of student-athlete leaders to provide insight into their college athletic experience. SAAC bridges the gap that can fall between the student-athletes and their coaches and athletic administrators.

Another teammate, Kennedy Lovell, also was on the committee and succeeded Sampson as SAAC president during the 2022-23 academic year. Lovell recognized Morris’ passion from the very beginning and knew she would be a force on the SAAC board.

“I have served on SAAC with Lucie for three years now and she has truly blossomed as a vital member of the Rocket community,” Lovell said. “From her first semester, she has been in conversations with student development and the athletic department, which shows her involvement and commitment to bettering herself and supporting student-athletes. On the team, she has also begun to take a more leadership-driven role, especially with the underclassmen. She has a way of fostering team camaraderie whether in the pool or a SAAC meeting.”

Morris worked her way up the totem pole, first serving as vice president under Lovell and then taking over as president for the 2023-24 school year. Her role as president is to coordinate meetings and lead events that are held as a committee while being a positive voice for teammates and fellow student-athletes. Morris is the third SAAC president to also be part of the Toledo women’s swimming and diving team, following Lovell and Sampson. She has embraced the legacy of leadership in creating support for her fellow student-athletes on campus and in the community.

Morris returned to the pool in time for the 2023 Mid-American Conference meet and has been in the lineup ever since.

“Being part of SAAC has made me appreciative of the amount of work that goes into athletics that you don’t see just from a student-athlete standpoint,” Morris said. “There are so many people that wake up every day to come to this university to make my student-athlete experience better. I’ve learned how many people buy into me on a day-to-day basis and it has made me appreciative of the people around me and the administration we have here.”

Morris is a two-time Dean’s List honoree and has two more years of athletic eligibility. She is on schedule to complete her undergraduate degree in communications studies and plans to pursue a master’s degree. Being a competitive person by nature, Morris’ goal this year is to provide for her team by improving as an athlete and as a student.

Even though Morris has two more years of athletic eligibility, she is grateful for the lessons she has already learned from her coaches and the athletic department at Toledo.

“Does it matter how many championships you’ve won or what your GPA was if you’re not a good person after you graduate?” Morris said. “I think this is something that our athletic department does a great job of reminding us of as athletes. Eventually, everyone is going to hang up on their sport. We must remember that we’re going to become a professional much longer than we’ll be an athlete.

“I think sometimes we get wrapped up so easily in being an athlete and putting our identities into what we do,” she added. “It’s about making sure that we realize we are also humans before we are students and before we are athletes.”

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