Just add water
Writer / Leigh Lawson . Photographer / Tammy Ward
There is no doubt that Coach Jim Todd has a successful swimming and diving program at Center Grove High School. There is a long history of dominance at the sectional meets with an example like the girls being the reigning champions for 25 consecutive years. Many graduates have continued to excel at the collegiate level and Olympic trials. The winning factor is Todd and his staff’s knowledge and the tremendous training efforts of the athletes.
Parental support behind the program is also a large part of the season. It has developed out of the love for the team and the acknowledgment of the physical demands of training. Over the years, the parents have developed traditions and a support system to meet the needs of the team. The parents provide many meals, organize the fun traditions and assist in running home meets by timing.
Parents begin to hear of the intensity of the high school level while their child is still at the younger levels. They enter their first high school parent meeting with trepidation. They are welcomed into the family with open arms and many offers from seasoned parents to “show them the ropes.”
The most important aspect of parental support is the team breakfasts, served daily before school. Everyone knows that the athletes burn a large quantity of calories. The breakfasts help carry them through the school day. That first time serving breakfast can be intimidating. By the end of the season, it is evident how greatly appreciated those hot breakfasts are when the seniors give their farewell speeches at the awards banquet. Often it is said that the promise of Mrs. Godfrey’s pancakes would carry them through a tough morning practice.
The traditions bring fun as the team prepare for the season. Hearty pasta dinners before important meets and team parties are a few traditions. The more notorious traditions involve coloring and shaving of the team’s hair. The girls gather to add a splash of color to their tresses before their sectional and the boys offer their support to them by dying their hair a shocking blonde. The parents are there to apply the color treatment. As the boys’ sectional approaches, the boys and their parents gather to shave creative designs into the boys’ hair for them to sport before completely going bald for quicker times.
At the meets, the parents gather in the stands and cheer both for a victory and for every individual athlete. There is an awareness of the athletes’ personal goals from school records to personal best records. They celebrate all successes.
Dan Bettner, father of senior Chase Bettner, sums up just how important the parents’ involvement is to the success of the season. “The CGHS Swim Parents Club is the backbone of the swim program. These kids get a great breakfast in the morning, and we stress nutrition and rest. I’m a firm believer that is a big reason why swimmers do above average in the classroom year in and year out. We support all of our kids. Swimming is an individual sport, but their points help the team. We have a great crew of younger kids and some solid upperclassmen for good leadership. Capturing the county meet was exciting as both girls and boys won. We look forward to great meets at the Sectionals and will represent at the State meets at the end of season.”
There is little argument that the CGHS swimming and diving team is one of the hardest working groups on campus. Some could even argue that their parents are also one of the hardest working parental groups. The great effort for a great season doesn’t matter for athlete or parent. From driving their athlete to 5:45 a.m. practice to providing meals for the team, it is a labor of love.