While sports teams typically name a single captain, two co-captains and even three or four captains, the women’s swimming and diving team is taking it one stroke further.
Instead of the typical two or three athletes being named captains this season, the women’s swimming and diving team will look for leadership from a captains’ council.
With 49 athletes on the roster, the team has given the role of leadership to the council made up of graduate student Naomi Mark, seniors Joanna Ferreri, Sheila Rhoades and Jillian Santer, juniors Jodi Costello, Missy Keesler and Kelly Murphy, and sophomore Carly Jones.
Each member of the council was selected based on votes from the other members on the team. This is the first season the Bombers have used a captains’ council.
Head Coach Paula Miller said she made the decision to switch to a captains’ council because of the strong leadership of many individuals on the team.
“The team votes for captains, and the problem was that the votes were all over the place,” Miller said. “This is the first time we did a captains’ council because we have such a big senior class, along with a few juniors, so we’re trying to develop leadership.”
Another issue that led to the decision of the council was that captains in the past were overwhelmed with the workload associated with being a captain. This year, responsibilities like fundraising, clothing orders and team dinners have been divided among the eight captains.
Keesler, a backstroke and freestyle swimmer, said the mixed level of classes on the council has changed the leadership this year.
“It’s a different dynamic because we have the three seniors, two juniors, the one sophomore and then the two divers,” Keesler said. “We get to see more of our divers than we did before because we’re really trying to involve them more and make it more the swimming and diving team, not just the swim team.”
Jones, who swims breaststroke and individual medley, said the council has helped the team become more unified this year.
“Since we’re all different classes it gives the underclassmen opportunities to come and talk to different people if they feel more comfortable with certain people,” Jones said. “It definitely gets more voices heard.”
Diving Coach Nate Brisley said he has noticed the women’s swimming and diving teams becoming closer and cheering each other on more at meets.
“Now the women’s side of the diving team really understands what the swimmers go through on a by-practice basis, and the swimmers understand what the divers go through,” Brisley said. “It helps put everyone on the same page and makes them all understand that they all work very hard but just in different ways.“
Freshman diver Korie Fackler said the captains’ roles are different than her experience in high school.
“Our captains for high school didn’t really have as much say for anything,” Fackler said. “If I needed to ask them a question or if I had a problem with what was going on, I couldn’t really talk to them about it because they didn’t really have any impact with what happened. The captains here though, they definitely have meetings with the coaches and talk to the coaches about what’s going on at practice so they have an influence on what’s going on.”
While the captains’ council has been successful so far this season with no major issues, both coaches said it is still too early in the season to say whether or not the council will be used in the future.
But in regards to this season, Miller’s decision to have a captains’ council rather than only a few individuals is evident in the team’s voice.
Freestyle swimmer Ferreri said this year’s council has been able to get more of a full-team perspective rather than just the seniors.
“I know my freshman year there were just a couple of captains,” Ferreri said. “Although we did have a say, it was mainly just the seniors running the show. It’s nice to have the word of the whole team and see how everyone’s feeling so that we can choose our decisions accordingly.”