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Globe article on John and Carolyn Swords

Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 by Rob Perez

Keeping the ball rolling

Despite adversity, siblings triumph on - and off - the court

By Lenny Megliola
Keeping the ball rolling

Globe Correspondent / February 21, 2010
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Carolyn Swords tried out for her middle school basketball team but didn’t make the cut.



John Swords

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High 
■ In his first season as a varsity starter, the 6-10 junior center was averaging 13 points, a team-leading 12 rebounds, and two blocks per game for the 13-7 Warriors 
■ Dual County League All-Star
■ Played hockey until his sophomore year

Carolyn Swords

Boston College
■ A junior cocaptain, the 6-foot-6 center is averaging a team-leading 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for the 14-11 Eagles 
■ Currently second in Division 1 in field-goal percentage (65.8)
■ Outstanding scholar-athlete as a sophomore at BC
■ Massachusetts Gatorade Girls’ Player of the Year as a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, when she led the Warriors to Division 2 state title

How far has she come?

In her senior year at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High, Swords was the centerpiece - very much so, at 6 feet 6 inches - as the Warriors captured the Division 2 state championship. Now a junior at Boston College, Swords leads the Eagles in scoring and rebounding, and has either been first or second in the country in field-goal percentage all season.

Her younger brother, John, decided to play hockey. Then he shot up to 6 feet 10 inches. Last year, as a sophomore at Lincoln-Sudbury, he switched to basketball, but spent all but six minutes on the junior varsity.

How has he done since then?

“He couldn’t dunk last year,’’ said Lincoln-Sudbury’s coach, Patrick Callahan. “Now we’ve got alley-oop plays for him.’’

As of last week, John Swords was averaging 13 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks per game this season, and was named to the Dual County League All-Star team. “And it’s just his second year playing basketball,’’ Callahan pointed out.

Those who know Carolyn and John Swords see them as special people, and it has little or nothing to do with their prowess on the basketball court. Not by a long shot.

They are givers, even though so much has been taken from them. Both of their parents have died: Cindy 11 years ago, at 37, of cancer; Brian three years ago of a heart attack, at 55.

It doesn’t stop there. “The week Brian died, my dad died,’’ said Susan Halliday, Cindy’s sister, who has played the mother role to Carolyn, John, and their 13-year-old sister, Marybeth. And in 2008, the children’s grandmother passed away.

Their closeness helped them all cope. “There have been a lot of life changes for us,’’ said Halliday. “More than ever before, we feel like a family. We just try to move forward and not think how life was.’’

The siblings live with Halliday in Sudbury. “She’s wonderful,’’ said Carolyn. “She has us five kids, I’m just thankful I have her.’’

Halliday, who is divorced, has two sons - Rob, who works in Washington, D.C., after graduating from Bowdoin College last May, and Russ, a junior at Bowdoin who plays attack on the men’s lacrosse team.

John Swords said his aunt “stepped up after my mother died. My dad had to go off to work. My aunt took care of us. We were her kids. After my father died, we had a rough few months of being sad.’’

For Carolyn and John, the gym, the practices, and the games became a refuge. Liza Feldman took over as the girls’ basketball coach at Lincoln-Sudbury when Carolyn was a sophomore, when she had the height but not much else. Feldman thinks perhaps her size worked against her. Her nature was to be quiet and helpful to others. She didn’t want to shine in the light. She wasn’t ready for that.Continued...

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