Archive for Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First-year Bonner Springs swim coach Williams a familiar face around community

November 28, 2012, 2:33 p.m.

Updated: November 29, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

First-year Bonner Springs swimming coach Preston Williams needs to be in the pool, even while he’s coaching.

As a triathlete and Ironman competitor, he isn’t above practicing along with his swimmers and setting an example for training and dedication.

“I’m a student of swimming,” Williams said. “I’m always trying to find out what the best swimmers are doing and what it takes to be successful. I just have a lot of energy. I love to teach and I love to coach.”

Williams was the former distance running coach at Maranatha Christian Academy and served as an assistant under his mother, Maranatha cross-country coach Bianca Williams. But he got the job in Bonner Springs because of his work around the community.

As an instructor at YMCA and coach of the Lake of the Forest swim team, he earned a reputation for being a vibrant mentor with a passion for helping kids mature. Then Lynn LaNoue, the previous swimming coach at BSHS, resigned. By then, Williams had built a reputation, and seemed like a fan favorite.

“When it came available, I had a number of parents say, ‘We’d love to have you coach if you want to do it,’” he said. “I didn’t actively pursue it at first, but I got excited about the idea of it.”

He enters his first season at Bonner Springs with a good chunk of last year’s team gone because of graduation. It is essentially a brand new team with state qualifiers Blaine Edmondson, Nate Mitchell, Ethan Hook and Ryan Cook gone.

The administrators on the hiring committee wanted more than a coach, somebody who could draw students to the sport with an enthusiastic approach. Williams was their guy. It also meant leaving Maranatha.

“That was a tough thing to give up on, but this is my community,” he said. “I’m crazy about these kids and I’m really excited to be their coach.”

This Braves program, which finished 23rd at state last season, is starting from scratch on almost all fronts. At every chance, Williams has been trying be a physical presence in the area, recruiting everyone he talks to.

For a few weeks leading up to this season, Williams conducted a morning conditioning program to get more students involved. He is in the process of figuring out his team, but from the onset, it looks like junior Thomas Hook and sophomore Jacob Kraus are the “veterans.”

Goals this season for the Braves aren’t a concern because of all the question marks and youth in the program. It’s obviously going to take some time to get another large group of talent, but hiring Williams wasn’t as much about the winning as it was about the culture. He has a chance to create a lasting effect for more than just one generation of swimmers.

“We need to build it back up and we need to get kids excited to be on the swim team and have that be a positive thing, something kids will want to do,” Williams said. “I certainly think that I can do that.”

The team begins the season Thursday at Shawnee Mission West. The Braves will host one of two home meets this season on Dec. 5 against Blue Valley, Olathe Northwest, Turner and Washington.

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