April 18, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It has been over 16 years since that awful January bus accident on the slick and snow-covered Indiana Toll Road took the lives of two Notre Dame freshman swimmers – Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp – and left their classmate Haley Scott so severely injured that doctors told her parents she would never walk again.

Many are familiar with Haley’s amazing tale of recovery and rehabilitation and remember how she eventually returned to the pool 21 months later and won her first race, bringing tears of joy to the packed house in the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

But now, and only now, has Haley been able to put her incredible story into words. On June 2, CrossTraining Publishing, a faith-based sport story publishing company, will release her book, “What Though the Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.”

“I tried to write this book twice before, but I just couldn’t do it,” said Haley, who now lives in Annapolis with her husband Jamie DeMaria, also a Notre Dame graduate and a former swim team manager, and their two sons, James, 6, and Edward, 4. ” I am in a very good place in my life, and I can go back and offer perspective and a more complete story of my journey.”

Haley spent five years putting the book together, researching interviews with former teammates and coaches, family members, medical personnel and law enforcement officials. She also reviewed court documents, medical records, newspaper clippings, television news coverage and police reports. She relied heavily on a journal she began keeping shortly after the accident to help her cope, and reproductions of individual pages of that diary will appear in the book.

“When you live through a tragedy like this accident, the impact changes your life as well as the lives of those around you,” said Haley. “I kept waiting for my life to go back to normal. I finally realized that wasn’t going to happen. I had to create a `new’ normal.”

Haley’s book reflects her belief that she was “incredibly lucky and blessed” to have had this accident happen while she was a student at Notre Dame.

“This is truly a wonderful story of community, faith, spirit and family,” says Haley. “Everyone at Notre Dame was so supportive and encouraging and caring. I will always be grateful for that.”

After graduating from Notre Dame in 1995, Haley returned to her native Phoenix to teach and coach at her high school alma mater, Xavier Preparatory. She now coaches her sons’ soccer teams and teaches CCD classes at her church in Annapolis. Since her parish is so big (over 5,000 members), she has been instrumental in creating smaller communities within the parish to help members live their faith.

Although her life is now joyful and full, Haley says a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t think of Meghan and Colleen.

“This book is a tribute to their memories, and I hope their families will see the huge role their daughters played in my recovery.”

Haley’s book will be available at the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore as well as on Amazon.com. For more information, visit her website at www.haleybook.com.