Athlete Testimonials

Learn firsthand how Team USA athletes have grown and developed through our country’s college sports system.

McKenzie Coan Loyola Maryland // Para swimming

Why did you choose your college,  and what did you like most about being a student-athlete there?

"I remember the first time I arrived on Loyola’s campus, I felt at home immediately. Ahead of committing to the school, I was able to sit in on one of the classes where I felt so engaged and excited to learn the materials. The entire department worked with me, especially during the Rio Paralympic Games, to ensure that I kept up with classes and wasn't overwhelmed when I returned a month late into the semester. I will be forever grateful for their hard work and guidance. As a student-athlete with a disability that competed in a Division I program, I loved that I never felt different or lesser."

How did competing collegiately help prepare you for competing on Team USA?

"Swimming collegiately helped me tremendously in preparing me to compete for Team USA. One of the things I loved and cherished the most about college swimming was the team aspect. I believe the team-oriented approach that I learned in college swimming prepared me well for the Paralympic Games and other national team trips because competing for Team USA means coming together as one. I learned from Loyola that you are so much stronger when you come together to achieve a common goal, and I always take that lesson with me when competing for Team USA."

How did (or will) going to college prepare you for life?

I’ve learned so much about life in being a student-athlete at Loyola. I always say that competing as a Division I swimmer while being enrolled as a full-time student, along with competing simultaneously on the national team, was the hardest, yet most rewarding thing that I have ever done. The work ethic I learned from those four years will carry me through in anything I do in my life. One of my life's greatest accomplishments will probably go down as graduating on time with my degree and achieving the successes I had at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. It was a hard journey, but I am immensely proud of myself and I know that I can pursue anything in life because of what I went through and achieved in those four years."