1. How long have you been coaching at King?
I have been coaching at King for 16 years. I have worked with the cross country and track teams for close to 13 years, and with swimming in 2003, 2006 and now since 2014 as the head coach.
2. What was the 2016 season like? Where did your team end up?
The 2016 season ended on a note that goes unmatched. In literally the last event of the high school season, our girls swam their hearts out for each other and won the state title in the 400 freestyle relay. I will never forget when our first swimmer finished her leg of the relay and we were in 6th place at the time. Regardless, her teammates that were about to swim turned to her and said, “You got the split you wanted!” They were almost as happy for her as winning the race when it was over. I think it was because of this, they finished with a win. It was a subtle moment that they probably don’t even realize I noticed, but it showed me when you care about the other person first, you will succeed. Had they not even known or cared about what she needed to do to put us into contention, we might have had a much flatter swim.
Not to mention, we were co-league champs, broke school and league records in almost every event and had multiple CIF and State meet finalists. From that standpoint we definitely built momentum, but it was also a tough course at times. We had some rough realities to face in how we were going to work together as a team to achieve great things. I would say the end result showed the emphasis that was put into creating a stronger team dynamic.
3. How does 2016 factor into 2017?
It certainly creates a nice legacy to live up to. I think kids were distinctly aware of how our League, CIF and State teams achieved great things with a lot of hard work and high expectations. I hope for our returners that they want to feel the success of last season. However, we lost some key senior leaders on both the boys and girls end so those will be some tough spots to fill. For us, I feel we are always about building momentum as the season rolls on. We don’t always have our girls water polo players the first couple of weeks and then it takes a while to get the big picture. By April and May we tend to feel good and the energy takes us to accomplish great things.
4. Who are your top returners?
Girls- Lauren Vitort who was a State, league and CIF finalist as well as our Academic All-American in 2016, Leah Thomas, Aubrey Nguyen, Abigail Nguyen, Maddie Stamen, Molly Thornton
Boys- Ethan Kolb, Blake Dennis, Vince Madarang, David Romero, Sam Xu and Zac Thelwell
5. What are your goals for this season?
Our motto this year is CommUNITY. Ultimately I would like to ensure that we are creating a true team atmosphere in what is considered by many to be just an individual sport. Our swimmers come from so many different groups- club swimming, club and high school water polo, summer swim leagues…..It’s tough for them to identify with our team at the start of our season. This is something our coaches have made a goal to set our kids up to make improvements in this area.
On the competitive level we would like to earn another League title and qualify as many kids as possible for CIF and hopefully the State meet again.
6. What do you expect from your players
We use the ABC acronym of “Attitude, Belief and Consistency”
To be very good people. To show up for each other. To give your very best effort each day and that includes making some sacrifices from time to time for the sake of the team.
7. How do you plan to implement PEAK into your program this season?
It will be the backbone of our weekly team meetings as well as having it as the guiding force in our parent discussions. A lot of times kids will hear us when it comes to creating expectations, but they don’t want it to always apply to them. Several times I have heard kids tell me, “I understand why you are doing this, but can we make a compromise for me?” If we can use these core values as a guide and make sure we are consistent as a collective staff at King in instilling these values, we will make improvements in these areas. Knowing my fellow coaches are using these to implement better behaviors among their teams gives me confidence in making sure we walk our talk.
Also, it forces the students to take ownership of the team they want to create and the teammates they hope to be. We also will use it as a tool to talk about the “big picture”. I have a firm belief that although our kids don’t always see the value of high school athletics now (they love the bus rides and the fun, but the extra effort not so much), they will be better in their relationships- personally, academically and professionally if we instill in them what it takes to be a good teammate.