Team Paws: An unbelievable experience
Throughout my personal and professional career, I’ve had the privilege to be a member of several very successful teams. But nothing quite compares to Team Paws.
If you haven’t heard, Team Paws was the name of the UWM squadof faculty, staff and students who responded to a friendly challenge issued by Concordia University President Patrick Ferry for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon held Oct. 6. When all team participants’ times were totaled, Team Paws (UWM Panthers) edged out Team Claws (CU Falcons), 4 hours, 12 minutes and 6seconds to 4 hours, 26 minutes and 6 seconds. I can very honestly say that even had the times not come out in our favor, Team Paws members would still be winners.
There are so many stories to tell from the months of preparation that led to the 26.2-mile race.
About half of Team Paws’ 95 members were first- time marathoners. Just the number of team members is very significant, considering that in 2011 there were just eight Lakefront Marathon participants from UWM.
Many of the first-time marathoners said that the training was a life-changing experience.
We had a student who admitted that he had not been applying himself to life at UWM and had been drifting through his years here. He said the training, which occupied many hours each week, gave him a new purpose and focus. He is now highly motivated in his classes and doing really well academically.
We had a faculty member tell me that she had never before run distances. Over a four-month stretch, she was so proud to run 2 miles, then 6, then 10, then 15 and then ultimately finish the marathon. She said she now values health and fitness, and could never imagine not having running in her life.
The role that the College of Health Sciences had in helping all of the runners in every aspect of the training was incredible. They provided performance testing, injury prevention, psychological testing, and nutrition and training plans. It was amazing how the campus, and particularly Nora Miller, an associate researcher in the CHS Physical Activity & Health Research Lab, rallied around Team Paws to help us get over the finish line.
We had our own weekly communication, Team Paws News, put together by Helaine Hickson, direc- tor of strategic communications for the School of Education. Helaine, who earlier this year ran in her first Boston Marathon and has qualified to return in 2013, provided advice and insights that were inspira- tional.
Finally, having 95 runners gather for the team picture before the race was humbling. Having so many people from campus gather together and work so hard for a common goal was unbelievable. I continue to be so proud to be a member of Team Paws.
Michael R. Lovell