Stingrays Swimming of Cobb County, GA, is a USA Swimming Bronze medal club with over three decades of experience in “training for life,” as the club’s mission statement says.
The Stingrays’ leadership strives to ensure that each swimmer is treated as an individual and to create an environment that allows each athlete to grow. In order to do this, the Stingrays make a concerted effort to foster values like “fitness, discipline, time management, personal responsibility, and positive self-image” as they focus on fun and skill development in the lower levels, technique in the age group level, and then see that hard work pay off in the senior level and beyond.
The Stingrays are led by head coach Ian Goss, who’s been with the team for 28 years and has coached numerous athletes during that time who have gone on to succeed at the college level. He’s also been a USA Swimming Select Camp coach, most recently in 2018.
To get some insight into the Stingrays’ team culture, BSN Sports Team Ambassador Jessica Hardy spoke with Pike Hightower, lead coach of the MVAC site, who has been with the team since 1992.
When asked to sum up his coaching in philosophy in one sentence, Hightower went back to the team’s mission statement — “Training for life.”
That philosophy is reflected in how the Stingrays’ approach both training and team chemistry.
We are a character first team. Because of that, the things that draw people together when they’re older is each other rather than being fast. Our core values are what drives the whole machine.
Part of that “training for life” approach involves empowering athletes to become future leaders. Hightower described several specific steps that the coaching staff takes to help prepare swimmers to be leaders, both in and out of the pool.
1-on-1 meetings, which are invaluable. As they come up through the program, which is more developmental, they narrow down their other sports, and develop more personal relationship with their coach, we take the time to invest in their life.
Swimming is a tough sport, and coaching swimming can be especially tough. The toughest part for Hightower?
Balancing time with family. I have two boys and a wife, so I focus on not letting swimming become who you are and not what you do.
Swimming can also be an extremely humbling sport, and once again, that’s just as true for coaches as it is for swimmers. When asked how he’s grown as a coach over the years, Hightower responded…
You mean how have I shrunk? It has been extremely humbling. I started off being right about everything 20 years ago. I’ve grown in humility and value in other opinions/other coaches – one of many things.
With a “training for life” philosophy, dedicated coaches, and a proven record of success, Stingrays Swimming will continue develop swimmers as people and as athletes for years to come.
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