Something about fall weather in Wisconsin brings joy to many people. For the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams, it’s that unmatched feeling of being back in the pool.
Coming off an impressive season last year, the Pointers are looking to continue their success under head coach Al Boelk, who has coached the Pointers since 1997. The men’s team won conference last season, marking their 14th consecutive title. The women’s team finished as runner-up in the conference.
The Pointers also had success at the national level. The men’s team finished 16th overall and the women’s finished 51st.
Stevens Point has had a major transition in the team from last season to this season. To put things into perspective, nearly 60 percent of this season’s team is made up of freshman.
“We have had within this team two of the largest graduating senior classes in my entire career. Back to back, which is really scary. This is the youngest this team has ever been in my career,” Boelk said.
Losing two large classes back to back is certainly a challenge for any coach. In order for the team to succeed, underclassmen have to step up.
As the Pointers prepare to open up the 2013-2014 season, the team has yet to name captains.
“We’re not going to elect captains until after our inner squad meet,” Boelk said. “ A lot of people have been displaying leadership, especially the seniors, but I am seeing leadership attributes out of swimmers from all four classes.”
For junior Cassie Matthys, theguidance that she had as a freshman will reflect on her character now.
“My freshman year, most of our team was seniors and they did a great job building the expectations of us becoming leaders,” Matthys said. “Now that I’m an upperclassman, I want to push people to do their best and try their best with a positive attitude.”
Being one of the few seniors on the team, Luuk Dekkers explained how the large class of incoming freshman will be pivotal this season.
“Losing all the fast swimmers that we did last year, I think we really have to rely on this freshman class. Everyone needs to step up this year,” Dekkers said.
Boelk has been a head coach long enough to see how teams work through bonding and acting as one large machine. It’s watching the team transform into something more that really impresses him.
“The group becomes a team and the team becomes something larger than a team, like a family. When that happens, and they start swimming for each other, that’s when we create something larger than the sum of its parts,” Boelk said. “I’m really excited for the chemistry of what kind of team culture is evolving.”
As the team has changed over the course of one offseason, the expectations have not. The men’s team is looking to make another title run, and the women’s team has their sights on capturing the conference title as well.
Boelk has been extremely successful as a head coach at UWSP. According to his athletes, he serves as a coach, a mentor and a friend to many of the athletes.
“Al has helped me a lot. He’s pushed me beyond what I ever thought was possible for myself. He’s believed in me the whole way and he’s been really supportive,” Matthys said.
The Pointers will host Parent’s Day for their Purple/Gold meet on Oct. 19, and then have a tri-dual meet versus UW-Eau Claire and St. Cloud on Oct. 26.