Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005
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With the holidays just around the corner, people all over the world are constructing their wish lists and dreaming about the gifts they may receive. Some are wishing small, asking for a new pair of shoes, while others are wishing big, wanting a new car.

While most people will be wishing for material things, much of the Muhlenberg community has other wishes in mind.

Over the last semester, Muhlenberg athletics have been faced with situations that seem to bring out the true meaning of the holiday season ... reminding everyone that the best gifts aren’t the ones that come in packages, but rather the gifts of life.

Head women’s soccer coach Leslie Benintend received an early holiday gift this semester. On September 1, coincidentally the day of the team’s first game, Benintend gave birth to her first child, Ryan. While remaining in her coaching position, she managed to take on a new job (one of the hardest jobs in life) as Mommy!

“When Coach brought the baby to practices,” reflected junior Emily Nealis, “It brought a happier feeling to the field. Coach also seemed more calm and less quick to get frustrated in Ryan’s presence.”

Benintend is the winningest coach in the history of Muhlenberg women’s soccer with an outstanding record of 129-69-15 in her 11 seasons. We wish that she will be just as successful, if not more so, as a mother.

For over a decade, he followed Muhlenberg athletics. You could find him in Scotty Wood Stadium for football in the fall, in Memorial Hall for basketball action in the winter and at the Lehigh County fields for softball games in the spring. Sadly, on November 24, Donald “Ducky” Miller passed away from cancer. His death came as a shock to the Muhlenberg community as it lost not only one of its greatest sports fans, but also a friend.

Ducky had a strange way of making the athletes smile. Whether it was yelling at the officials for making a bad call or handing out words of encouragement after just playing the worst game ever, his loving attitude for the athletes was quite evident.

What Ducky brought to Muhlenberg athletics is not something that comes around very often. He was a true gift to the program and will be greatly missed. We wish him a peaceful rest that will allow him to follow the Mule teams from above.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy to realize all the blessings in life. The Muhlenberg athletic community knows about tragedy all too well, as one of our own was seriously injured this semester. On November 2, senior softball player Tara DeMarzo was involved in a severe auto accident while returning to campus from her student teaching.

The campus was devastated as word spread that Tara was fighting for her life and her recovery period would be very extensive. For weeks Tara remained in intensive care as many on campus prayed for her healthy recovery.

As time passes, Tara continues to make great progress. Every day it seems that Tara is accomplishing something remarkable. Tara is an ongoing example of a true gift of life. She has reminded a community what the important things are in life, as she struggled for her own.

A test that was the biggest deal last finals week, or a holiday game that was important to win to go home on a good note, are now only small details. Tara has blessed the Muhlenberg community with more gifts this holiday season than Santa could ever bring.

This year the hot item on the Muhlenberg community’s wish list isn’t a new car, an iPod, or winning a game. This year, Tara DeMarzo’s recovery is on top of hundreds of wish lists.

This holiday season, please take a second to think about what is truly important in your life. Remember, it’s the simple things that mean the most, and the gifts of life that are most fascinating.

— by Lacie Smith

note: Mule Sports Daily will return on Wednesday, January 4, 2006.

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Last updated December 20, 2005