Frisco ISD has become such a powerhouse in swimming and diving that sometimes its greatest competition comes from within the District. So it’s no surprise that the FISD swimming coaches, who are preparing their teams for Saturday’s District 10-5A competition at the Bruce Eubanks Natatorium, are fierce competitors.
But the coaches are also great friends and supporters of each other’s programs.
“Unique is the only way to describe it,” said Wakeland High School coach Melissa Howard. “We all want to beat each other, but at the same time, we’re going to have an awesome attitude about it. And afterward, we’re going to give hugs and pats on the back and nobody is a sour sport about it.”
Those are the kinds of relationships nurtured by longtime Frisco High School swimming coach Bruce Eubanks, who was hired in 2001, when FISD had only one high school and construction had yet to begin on the natatorium that now bears his name.
FISD Athletic Director David Kuykendall wanted a coach who could take the District’s swimming and diving program to another level, and that has undoubtedly been achieved. Frisco High has won five state team titles since 2005 (three boys, two girls) and Wakeland High won a boys team title in 2014.
But Kuykendall wanted the Frisco ISD swimming coach to create more than a culture of success. He envisioned a group of coaches who, as the district added high schools, could be competitive and supportive at the same time.
Nearly seventeen years after Eubanks’ hiring, and as FISD prepares to open its 10th high school this year, that culture still exists.
“There’s one pool and we all work together,” said Eubanks, who retired in 2014 but is now working as a roving assistant with the FISD swimmers. “We’re all coaching for our high schools and we want the best for our kids, but we also want the best for FISD.”
Five schools practice in the morning, staggering their time in the pool and the weight room so each swimmer has equal training time. In the afternoon, four schools practice along with the Frisco ISD divers, who all get direction from the District’s diving coach, Melissa Soileau.
“The swim coaches in Frisco ISD have an uncanny ability to support, uplift, encourage, compete, and push each other to be better coaches, friends and people,” Soileau said. “All of us work together to help make Frisco ISD the best program in the state. If someone is sick or has a family issue, any one of us is willing to jump in and help.”
Lebanon Trail High School coach Megan Graves was coaching her swimmers recently when a coach from another FISD school suggested a way to help a particular athlete. The coach offered the tip, despite how it could help “the competition.”
“I have never worked for a district with this kind of dynamic before, and I can truly say the kids come first,” Graves said. “No matter what we do or say, it’s always from a position of what is best for the swimmers, even if it isn’t for our own.”
Frisco High School coach Andrew Stewart echoes that sentiment. The coaches and teams respect each other and support each other, he said, and when it’s time to race, “we’re all in it to win it.” When the races end, the coaches can shake hands and prepare for the next meet.
All For One
After the District 10-5A competition is complete Saturday, swimmers and divers will begin preparing for the Region 3 Meet on February 2-3 at the Bruce Eubanks Natatorium. That will be followed by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Meet on Feb. 16-17 in Austin, and that’s when the coaches’ all-for-one philosophy is most obvious.
“We see that any success for the other Frisco swim programs will make us all look better,” Lone Star High School coach Greg Fisher said. “We get to know the kids from the other teams and get real pleasure at seeing them improve and be successful. When you really see it is when we travel down to Austin for the state meet as one big group.”
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District 10-5A Swimming and Diving Meet
FISD Bruce Eubanks Natatorium
Diving: Thursday, 5 p.m.
Swimming: Saturday, 11 a.m.
Adult Admission: $7
Student Admission: $4
Heat Sheets: $3