Fenwick Welcomes New Aquatics Director, Coach Steve Thompson

     On a sorrowful day at the end of the 2020 school year, it was announced that the aquatics director, Luke McGuire would be resigning from the position, having culminated his final season with the Friars. Coaches Renée Miller and Colleen Marietta would be stepping down as well. The newly open position piqued the interest of many, and one prospective man was recently named the Aquatics Director: Coach Steve Thompson.

     Hailing from La Grange comes the new, well qualified coach. Having spent time instructing at North Carolina State, Louis University, and more, he totals more than 22 years of expertise and has coached swimmers at every level of the sport to help them reach their individual potentials.

     With all of his experience, Coach Thompson will provide a fresh look on the Aquatics Department. When asked how he wanted to direct the team, Coach Thompson said, “We want to learn how to work hard; we want to understand the discipline it takes to be a successful athlete.” In this mindset, the new coach began coaching the girls’ swimming team late this past summer. His expectations lie not only in physical improvement, but in personal growth as well. “I want to see us as people grow through our swimming,” Coach Thompson said.

     His philosophy transcends to the swimmers as well. Sophomore Lilly McGarry said, “It was noticeable that he definitely cares how we as swimmers improved.”

     The girls are also adjusting to his new coaching style and practice setup. “He does a good job of incorporating every aspect of swim training,” McGarry said.

     It has become apparent that the mentor has been adapting to his new team as well, by speaking with each athlete one-on-one. “He genuinely seems interested in each swimmer,” said junior Christina Mireles. In agreement with several of the other athletes, Mireles can see herself progressing: ”I am improving as a swimmer because I am keeping up with girls in practice that used to be way faster than me.”

     Coach Thompson has a familial tie to Fenwick. “When the job opened, I was intrigued because it had so much historical connection to us,” he stated. His wife’s family has produced multiple Fenwick graduates. Moreover, he was drawn to the sense of community seen at Fenwick: “You’re serving a mission, and I really enjoy being part of a mission driven community.”

     Despite being such an accomplished coach, joining the Fenwick Friars Aquatics Program is no easy feat. It is no secret that the girls’ team is close-knit and that the team shared a deep relationship with their previous instructors. Assistant Coach Veronica Gibson reflected on the past coaches’ success: “There were state qualifiers every year; with sectional winners and state trophies.” Not only were they successful in the pool, but they were successful at reaching the swimmers themselves. “They created a team atmosphere,” Coach Gibson adds.

     Undoubtedly, traditions help bind the team members. Coach Thompson reflected, “I think traditions continuously grow. This year, more than any other points us back to those traditions.” It is admittedly difficult to continue on with certain programs amidst this pandemic. Consequently, Coach Thompson assured the team that “in a more normal year, we could certainly incorporate more of the fun things involved.” He speaks as if the early morning practices are not fun enough!

     Overall, the exceptional circumstances facing the 2020 swim season are challenging enough, but Coach Thompson is taking each obstacle in stride. He appears to fit right into his role, and he is creating a positive environment for all involved. Coach Thompson reflected on the situation, and summed up the purpose of the aquatic department by saying, “At the very least, I want it to feel like when you graduate, it’s gonna be a part of you for the rest of your life.”

     It will be intriguing to follow the Fenwick Aquatic Teams as they connect with Coach Thompson, overcome challenges and celebrate victories as a team!