Jan. 13, 2006
NAPLES, Fla. – During the Florida State swimming and diving teams’ recent training trip to Naples, Fla. the Seminoles did more than just wake up every day and go to the pool. Head Coach Neil Harper decided to give the team an afternoon away from training to give them an experience that they would not forget. Harper loaded the team up and bused them out to the near by Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Seminole Big Cypress Reservation.
“We decided to forego an afternoon practice to go to the reservation,” said head coach Neil Harper. “It isn’t every day that you get the opportunity to visit a place like that. It was a good opportunity to mix a little bit of rest with something that was important for all of us. It would typically take 7 or 8 hours from Tallahassee but since we were down there we felt it was the perfect time to do something.”
In the Seminole language, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki means “to learn” and this was a great learning experience for the entire team. The team had the chance to experience the Seminole tribe’s history and culture first hand.
“It was really informative to find out what the tribe was actually like and how they came about,” said senior captain Stephan Connor. “I learned a lot about how strong a tribe they were and how they were able to overcome the challenges that were presented to them and adapt to their surroundings.”
The team was also given insight to all of the different families and clans that exist within the Florida Seminole tribe.
“It was interesting to see how many different clans there were within the Seminole tribe and how they came together to work as one,” said All-American senior Carrie Ellis. “I think that we can apply that to our team. We have different groups: distance, stroke, sprint, and we are like our own different clans. When it comes down to the ACC Championships we have to come together as one team just like they come together as one tribe.”
The museum is the nation’s largest display of the life of the unconquered Florida Seminoles and features a wide variety of exhibits, artifacts and cultural displays. This experience truly showed the team what it means to represent the Seminole nation on the athletic fields of Florida State University.
“The experience was good for us as a team because now when we wear the Seminole logo on our apparel, we actually have an understanding of the meaning behind it,” said two-time ACC champion senior Joel Roycik. “Some people don’t understand it because of all of the different Native-American tribes that exist but, we actually had the experience to find out the history behind the tribe that we are representing.”
This trip for Florida State swimming and diving was a real eye-opening experience. Having the opportunity to see exactly what they are representing has helped instill even more pride to this team.
“It is a real honor to be a Seminole, after seeing the museum and how much that tribe has gone through,” said Ellis. “So many different people tried to push them out of their land and they have stood firm. It is just an honor for us to be associated with them.”
“We gained a lot of pride from this experience,” said Harper. “A lot of teams have nicknames and mascots but this experience helped to further the idea that the word `Seminole’ is not a nickname or mascot. It is an honor and a representation of a people that are unconquered and still there to this day. This is a proud nation that goes way back into the state of Florida’s heritage. We are honored to have their name of Seminoles on the athletic field.”