From Grosse Ile, Michigan, Gold Medal winner Abby King has been playing soccer for as long as she can remember.
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Varsity Season Record: 5-5
Captains: Jaret Skonieczny ’17 and Colton Zampelli ’17
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Swimmer: Kevin Escott ’18; Most Improved Swimmer: Brandt Aker ’19; Spirit Award: Colton Zampelli; Most Valuable Diver: Jack Sovich ’19
In Head Coach Katie Monroe’s fourth year at WRA, she finished a strong season with the boys swimming and diving team, who showed great teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership from start to finish.
"This group is pretty cool because I started with them, and, as a coach, that is kind of special," Monroe said. "We've come full circle and, for the first time, completed a cycle. And a couple of the seniors started with me as non-swimmers and stayed with it."
Though each athlete demonstrated his own athletic ability, Monroe was proud of the way the team came together as a cohesive unit.
“Everybody thinks of swimming as an individual sport,” said Monroe. “But it really becomes a team sport when you start adding up the points — everyone wants everyone to do well.”
The team’s rapport was consistently positive, and throughout the season, they cheered each other on and stepped up when fellow teammates were out due to illness.
“My co-captains, Jaret and Colton, were just fabulous,” said Monroe. “And all of them really kicked in when others were sick. They just really encourage each other and help each other out. That’s huge.”
The strength of the boys swimming and diving team has stayed consistent over the years, said Monroe, and she has trouble identifying standouts within a group of athletes who all showed strength and progression.
“They all improve in some way over the season,” she said. “I’d say they’re strong and have stayed strong. I did have some boys where it just kind of clicked during the season — right after Christmas. We had had a lot of meets, and suddenly it seemed that everything we had been doing in November and December was finally feeding into them.”
Though she will part with five seniors, she feels confident that the program will see another season to be proud of.
“I tend to lose two or three seniors every year,” she said, “And when it happens, at first I think, ‘Oh, what am I going to do?’ And somebody steps naturally into that role.”
She looks forward to a new season of coaching her returning and new athletes, and developing their swimming abilities. To her, swimming is an activity that will stay with them throughout their lifetime.
“It’s a lifelong sport,” she said. “That’s what I tell the kids. Nobody can ever take it away from you. It’s something you can always go back and do, and your body will know how to do it.”
Varsity Season Record: 6-3
Captains: Liam Sullivan ’16 and Yuki Yamasaki ’16.
Highlights: The Hiram Invitational where it all came down to the last boys relay and this secured the first place victory.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Swimmer: Kevin Escott ’18; Most Improved Swimmer: Joseph Randazzo ’17; Coaches Award: Phillip Kuri ’18; Most Valuable Diver: Jack Sovich ’19
Great team camaraderie, remarkable team improvement and cheerful support from fans — it was, as Coach Katie Monroe describes, every coach’s dream season.
“The time drops the swimmers produced meet after meet was impressive!” She said. “I loved the support and enthusiasm the swimmers provided for one another both at practice and at swim meets.”
One of the greatest accomplishments for the boys team includes the Hiram Holiday Meet, which came down to the last relay.
“Four young men swam their absolute hearts out,” said Monroe, describing the final event that led to the first-place victory. “The volume of cheering in the Hiram natatorium was deafening — and we won!”
For the diving team, a significant moment in the season happened at the Eastern Championships at LaSalle in Philadelphia, PA, when Most Valuable Diver recipient Jack T. Sovich ’19 placed eighth overall.
“He had such a great meet, especially for a freshman,” said diving Coach Glenn Yorkievitz. “He placed higher than anyone in the previous seven years that I have been coaching here.”
As with every year, one of the biggest challenges is the length of the holiday breaks, during which many athletes return home or take the time to travel, and ultimately miss a significant amount of training time before returning in December and again in January.
But this year, the team overcame this obstacle and led a great season marked with athletic versatility and exceptional coaching.
“Our strength was in numbers!” Monroe said. “We were able to fill all the lanes in the meets and have multiple relays due to the depth of the team. We also had phenomenal coaches. Coach Kevin Thomas was a new face for the students, but he took charge of our dry land training and was able to press upon the importance of it to most of the swimmers.”
While there were a lot of new athletes in the pool and a limited amount of time to teach them all they needed to know to perform and compete, Monroe said the time was strengthened by key leaders and talented athletes.
“Our co-captains Liam Sullivan ’16 and Yuki Yamasaki ’16 will be missed as they were great leaders in and out of the pool for the boys team,” she said.
Kevin T. Escott ’18, who received the Most Valuable Swimmer award, will return next season after a great year in the pool. Will Downing ’19, Jaret Skonieczny ’17, Phillip Kuri ’18, and Colton Zampelli ’17 also made great contributions to the team and will return to the pool for what will hopefully be another great season.
“My goal is to continue improving the very talented but young group of divers that we have returning,” said Yorkievitz. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to add five or six new divers to help increase our depth and foster more competition amongst ourselves.”