V.R. Eaton High School is a public school located in Haslet, TX, near Fort Worth. The school opened in 2015, and head coach Michael Rourke just wrapped up his second leading this growing program. We caught up with Coach Rourke to ask him a few questions about his team and his coaching philosophy.
As we said, the school has only been in existence for a handful of years, and Rourke just wrapped up his second year as the head coach, but after a lifetime of swimming and having had coached locally since he was 19, Rourke arrived at V.R. Eaton High School with a clear understanding of what he wanted to accomplish as a coach. Coach Rourke recently met with BSN Brand Ambassador Jessica Hardy and said:
Athletic performance comes as a result of building an environment and culture in which everyone can achieve their highest potential… building character is the number one objective when it comes to my coaching, and athletic performance/successes comes as a byproduct.
For Rourke, building character largely means using swimming as a means of preparing high school-aged kids for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in life.
As a head coach, I treat my athletes as though they are equals. I try to show them how life outside of high school and outside of the sport will be so that they are prepared in all aspects of life. Whether that be timeliness, effort levels, disappointments, etc. I want to prepare my kids for life outside of the sport. I think that swimming is the greatest sport there is because of all the life lessons that present themselves just on a season to season basis. And by utilizing these moments as teaching moments outside of the sport, I believe that I not only prepare my athletes for the “swammer” life, but also give them the tools necessary to lead those around them to success.
The focus on building character has led to a team that is strongly united, both in and out of the pool.
The team chemistry of the Eaton Eagle Swim Team is one that has that “family feel” to it. The time we spend together inside and outside of the pool allows these young athletes to build a bond that is so strong, and they start to focus not only on their own achievement, but they strive to bring the best out of each other.
While the Eagles haven’t been around for every long, they’ve quickly found some success. Rourke described the end of his first season, when the team won the UIL District 6-5A championship, which he explained was his best coaching memory so far.
As a 2nd year varsity program, my boys and girls swept a District title that they were not favored to win. I took a total of 19 athletes to this championship meet, and I had never seen a team perform so far above their own expectations. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about their reaction when the results were called and we were given the two trophies.
The Eagles didn’t get a chance to defend that title, as the school moved up to 6A competition as part of Texas’s high school realignment, but the future appears bright for the Eagles swimmers, both in the pool, and in life beyond the pool.
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