Swimmer competes with lost coach in her heart
Upon hearing of her swim coach’s murder, Isabel Minnis made the choice to quit her favorite sport.
“I put all my swim stuff in a black garbage can,” the Jefferson High School senior recalled.
Her parents retrieved the swim gear as Minnis went through the grieving process. Her coach, Kelley Allen, taught her not to give up.
Today, the determination he taught her is in his mind during every race.
“He made even the worst swimmer feel like an Olympian,” she said before the county championship race at Bobby Hicks Pool on Friday afternoon. “Every time I put my cap on, jump off the block, I think of Coach Kelley.”
Minnis finished sixth in the 100-meter backstroke. She plans to attend Iona College in New York next year on a swimming scholarship.
In May, she could add another scholarship courtesy of a local group that was impressed by her story. The Positive Coaching Alliance named Minnis one of 25 finalists for a $2,000 scholarship given to student athletes who showcase high levels of character and become role models for the community despite difficult circumstances.
“To have a coach who’s murdered in that way, there’s a risk that it could go the other way, right?” said Mark Sakalosky, the executive director of Positive Coaching Alliance Tampa Bay. “She really used that as motivation to honor his memory, to become more motivated to her sport and that’s an incredible story.”
PCA scholarships will be announced in May 2018. PCA-Tampa Bay’s program honors area high school student-athletes who impact sport on three levels by making themselves, their teammates and the game they play better. These student-athletes serve as a model for all student-athletes across the Tampa Bay community by living up to the principles PCA-Tampa Bay cultivates. Student-athletes participate in community education programs delivered in conjunction with Hillsborough County Public Schools, Pasco County Schools, Manatee County Schools, and Pinellas County Schools.
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