Shealyn Boland coached high school divers from both St. Charles North and East this season.
The Saints were unable to hire a full-time complement to swimming coach Joe Cabel in time, so Boland helped out on both sides of town.
All the while, she was focusing the rest of her attention on growing the sport she’s long been passionate about in her new hometown. Joining North coach Rob Rooney’s staff paved the way for Boland to inquire about beginning a diving division of the St. Charles Swim Team.
Just like that, the club has a new component.
“It was kind of really easy just because I was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this,’ and with the swim club, they were like, ‘All right,’ ” Boland said. “They already have all the insurance, all the legal stuff and administrative stuff that I’m not very good at. I’m good at coaching; it’s that paperwork I’m not very good at.”
About 12 divers – mostly girls – cleared the requisite red tape to begin competing with the club in November.
Boland aims to grow that number significantly by the summer, and has at least one high-profile recruit in hand.
East senior Max Schmitt, who recently dove in his second successive IHSA state meet, trained with the Naperville-based DuPage Diving Academy this past summer for lack of a closer alternative. Before leaving for a hopeful collegiate diving career – Oakland (Mich.) and Wright State (Ohio) are among those showing interest – he plans to hone his craft with Boland, a former standout at Conant and New Mexico State.
“I wish I had a club here when I was younger,” Schmitt said. “It’s so great she’s starting one in St. Charles.”
St. Charles Swim Team counts numerous collegiate swimmers among its alumni, in addition to current coaches Jon Cabel (Eastern Michigan) and Rooney (Western Illinois).
Rooney traditionally has valued the club’s family approach, and not just because it graduates its share of siblings. In his first few months of working alongside Boland, he finds those same attributes in her.
Joe Cabel, Jon’s brother, knows the bonds between athlete and coach only grow under the club swimming structure. He doesn’t see the dynamic changing in diving.
“You’ve got to think year-round,” Cabel said. “And maybe you’re not there every day like you are during the high school season, but you’re keeping the rhythm going, continuing to learn year-round instead of just thinking you’re going to learn anything for 14 weeks.”
Officials also are aiming to integrate water polo into the St. Charles aquatics program. Many boys and girls high school swimmers will begin water polo workouts when spring sports practices open this week.
For those looking to gracefully pierce the water instead of tread it, Boland happily will be on hand.
“I love diving,” Boland said. “I grew up diving, so yeah, it just kind of flew into a frenzy because I just piggybacked on with St. Charles.”