Save La Salle University Swimming & Diving getting rolling

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Kellene Coulombe posted on Facebook

Kellene McCall Coulombe
La Salle University Alumna, 2010

To: La Salle Athletics and Recreation Department
1900 W Olney Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19141

To Whom This May Concern:

I am deeply saddened by the news that was released yesterday regarding the dropping of SEVEN varsity programs from La Salle’s Athletic Department. I understand the business side of things – that finances do not measure up and change must happen – but what I do not understand is the blatant disregard of La Salle’s values and history.

My name is Kellene Coulombe, formerly Kellene McCall, an alumna of La Salle University, 2010. I was a member of the Women’s Swimming and Diving team from 2006-2010, and to put it in extremely simple terms, it helped shape the human being I am today. I graduated with a bachelor degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences and went on to also achieve a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from La Salle in 2012.

I entered college completely unsure of myself, as most freshmen are when they begin college. Through the many ups and downs that is collegiate adolescence, the sport of swimming was my constant. I relied so much on my teammates and coaches, both male and female, to help pull me through on the days I wanted to quit, give up on endeavors or fold to my own insecurities – both in sport, academic and personal situations. These people saw me at my complete worst and my complete best – the people, who aside from my family at home, were the only ones who knew what I was capable of, even when I did not myself. I discovered what it truly means to develop a true, genuine work ethic and self-authenticity in order to achieve success. When I look back on my collegiate experience, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and it is the primary reason I have given back to the sport in various avenues since graduating. The emotions I am feeling writing this are palpable.

The reason I chose La Salle was because of its values – inclusion, community, wisdom, knowledge, faith… amongst others. The moment I stepped on campus for a tour as a high school senior in the fall of 2005 with my parents, I could feel the warmth and genuine spirit of, “I want YOU to succeed. We are a team. We are in this together. We are a family.” This was especially evident within athletics, and together with my family history of attendance and how I was raised, I knew it was the place for me.

In light of the most recent administrative decision to drop several varsity teams, I no longer feel connected to what I experienced. My “family” - both by blood and by team/department – is no longer connected to a university that makes decisions at the expense of generations - past, present and future. The values of La Salle University are heading in a direction that I do not want to be affiliated with. I will longer endorse the growth of the athletics department given the current state, as I would never recommend a program that does not have the best intentions for their student body and supporting professionals at heart. If you are unaware, the supported and empowered student athlete is typically who creates the magic at the university level.

Frankly, fully dropping programs demonstrates a disturbing void of effort to do otherwise. It is avoiding the responsibility to CREATE opportunities versus blatantly eliminating options for so many. As a short list of things that came to mind in the 24 hours that this news has broken, here are some of my ideas:

  • Limit travel to local events only
  • Promote inter-squad and local university competition
  • Develop fundraising events with multiple streams of income and sub-programs that develop the athlete as a whole (“internship” opportunities; “big picture” thinking)
  • Create opportunities for community involvement (i.e. swim lessons for community youth)

The recap: generate space and time to rebuild and reallocate funds while still honoring history, university values and the wellbeing of the student body.

La Salle University, YOU MUST DO BETTER!

In addition to my personal experience, the following family members are alumni of La Salle University:

  1. Patricia McGlone-McCall, 1983 (mother, full ride academically; double major in Special Education and Social Work)
  2. Sarah McCall (formerly Sarah Chambers), 2013 (sister-in-law, Women’s Tennis, Nursing)
  3. Sean McCall, 2014 (brother, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Criminal Justice/Pre-Law)
  4. Collin McCall (formerly Collin Kessinger), 2019 (sister-in-law, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Education)

Kellene McCall Coulombe, 2010

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