WHEELING - Meghan Ebbert can't help but smile.
When she looks up at the swimming recordboard inside the natatorium at Wheeling Jesuit University's McDonough Center, Ebbert sees more than numbers. She sees the fruits of years of labor.
''It's a good reflection of all the hard work I've done,'' the St. John Central alum said. ''It really confirms I did things right. I have no regrets.''
ST. JOHN graduate Meghan Ebbert swims in the breast stroke this past season. She’s been recognized at WJU.
The St. John Central graduate has concluded her swimming career with the Cardinals, but her impact is sure to be felt for years to come.
A holder of three Appalachian Conference records and six school marks, Ebbert will be hard to replace in and out of the pool, according to WJU head coach Mike Meyers.
''Meghan has been our captain the last two years and has led the team through her own example of hard work in our practices, attention to detail with her technique, and unconditional support for her teammates,'' he said. ''We counted on her to attack all of her races and get the points we needed.''
No more was that truer than at this past season's Appalachian Conference championships, where Ebbert's leadership and skill helped the Cards rally.
''That was maybe my proudest moment,'' she recalled. ''We started out with an early DQ and we had other issues with us being down points.
''We were kind of down in the dumps, not knowing what was going to happen. But we rallied together and ended up winning. It was a sweet victory. It was a great success and really proud of the team for that.''
Ebbert relished the team accomplishments more than anything. And that's what she'll miss about being a part of the Cardinals.
''I always tried to do the lead by example kind of thing,'' she said. ''This year, I had a better idea of how I was going to lead the team and I pride myself on how hard I work. I think I did a better job of leading by example and showing the team that if you want to be successful and you're passionate about the sport this is how you should do it.''
There were times, though, where Ebbert didn't know if collegiate swimming was right for her.
After a successful career in the high school and club ranks, the transition to college left Ebbert with some doubts on whether of not she wanted to continue.
''But I was too passionate about it to quit or give up on it,'' she said. ''So I decided to work harder. I think every single year I worked harder and harder and I think it showed through my success.''
Ebbert holds individual conference records in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke and as a member of the 800 Freestyle Relay team.
WJU marks in Ebbert's possession include - the 100 and 200 Breaststroke, 200 IM, 200 Medley Relay, 400 Medley and 800 Freestyle Relay.
All recordholders, in a tradition started by Meyer, place their own names on the school's recordboard. While she's afraid of heights, Ebbert gladly made the trip up the wall using a cherry picker to place her name among the best.
''That was a great opportunity,'' she said.
Meyers said Ebbert's perseverance benefited not only herself, but her teammates and the university as a whole.
''Her success has helped the team be champions twice and runners up once,'' he said.
Most importantly, according to Meyer, Ebbert became a force out of the pool.
''She helped her team achieve Academic All-American status last semester and the semester before that,'' he said. ''We anticipate another for this semester.
''She also helps me form the 'Big Sister' program where upperclassmen mentor the freshmen twice weekly to foster good study and time management habits.
''In addition to all of that, she has been a pleasure to know as a person, always smiling, always positive, always engaged with what is going on with the team and with WJU.''
Those teammates have noticed and been inspired by Ebbert's commitment to excellence.
''On Senior Day, each girl wrote a note and placed it on our lockers,'' Ebbert recalled. ''It' s a wonderful feeling to know I was able to help motivate them to motivate themselves.''
Ebbert will graduate next month as an English major with a minor in communications. She will attend Duquesne University in the fall to begin a two-year program in pursuit of a master's degree in corporate communications.