GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) announced its Inspirational Award winners for the 2015-16 academic year and Gallaudet University women's swimming and diving student-athlete Taylor Mickelson (Fargo, N.D.) was selected as one of four Inspirational Award honorees. Mickelson shares the spotlight with Brynn Athyn College's Colton Harrish of the men's lacrosse team, Rutgers University-Camden's Sean Sanchirico of the men's golf team, and SUNY Cobleskill's Anthony Yevoli of the men's lacrosse team.
The Inspirational Award is given annually to a student-athlete, coach or administrator who has endured personal hardship that has led to bravery and dedication within athletics.
Mickelson is the fourth Gallaudet Bison and second women's swimmer to earn this honor since GU joined the conference in 2010-11. Former women's basketball head coach Kevin Cook was honored in 2010-11, women's swimmer Lisa van der Mark was honored in 2011-12 while men's cross country runner Ivan Alfaro was honored in 2012-13.
Deaf and born with one hand, Taylor is an outstanding athlete and scholar with an engaging personality. As a Gallaudet swimmer and diver, she has contributed significantly to the success of the team and she barely acknowledges her physical challenges. As a swimmer, she participated in the most challenging events, swimming butterfly and the 400 individual medley. Limited by her hand, she perfected the underwater dolphin kick to her advantage. As a diver, Taylor has struggled with knee issues that limited her practice time and intensity. Yet, she developed the required competitive dive list and scored all-important team points.
"Taylor's enthusiasm and determination make coaching her a great experience for me," said Gallaudet men's and women's swimming and diving head coach Larry Curran. "She faces challenges without hesitation and the leadership role she plays on the team contributes a lot to the team's success. She's in a class of her own!"
Taylor is also engaged in academic and campus activities. Majoring in mathematics she has been inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Collegiate Honors Society. She is also the women’s swimming & diving team representative to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and a SAAC representative to the Student Body Government. Always setting personal "stretch" goals, she is also well on her way to obtaining her private pilot license.
Those that know Taylor describe here as being "unlimited" as she approaches life. Where others may accept limitations when faced with challenges like Taylor’s, she throws herself into reaching her next goal.
"Taylor is a true inspiration for others, as she doesn't let her disability interfere with her ability to be a valuable member of the Gallaudet swimming program," said Gallaudet University Athletics Director Michael Weinstock. "The entire athletics department is very proud of Taylor on this achievement."
Gallaudet's NEAC Inspirational Award Winners