When it comes to Woodinville Swim and Dive, there’s always a major obstacle to cross before all else. Maintaining healthy roster numbers has been the bane of this team’s existence. After all, it takes a special type of individual to sign up for 5 a.m. practice sessions.
After last year’s team graduated 12 seniors, head coach George Sayah kick-started the recruiting effort.
“We have a very strong freshmen class coming in, which is very exciting for us,” Sayah said. “And through some recruiting efforts we have some new sophomores and juniors as well... Our roster isn’t finalized yet. Registration is still open, so we still have the opportunity to get more numbers. We are just shy of where we were at numbers-wise a year ago, so that's a big win for us.”
Sayah spoke highly of dive coach Deb Shelton and assistant coach Jen Cruze, who spearheaded the recruiting efforts.
“Jen Cruze is on campus full-time,” Sayah said. “She does a really nice job reaching out to our athletes, and getting them excited about what we have going on. The athletes really responded.”
The Lady Falcons will be led by three captains: Sheridan Douglas, Megan Shaull and Lauren Brook.
“Sheridan is our dive captain,” Sayah said. “Then we've got Lauren and Megan who are the swim captains. They have already taken a lot of initiative in reaching out to me and taking the leadership role seriously. I count on them to keep the team together. I'm looking forward to working with that group.”
As Sayah enters his third full season as head coach, he feels his preferred culture has been established.
“Our retention numbers are very high,” he said. “Once they get into our program, they stay with us. It's something I track and am very proud of. I think that it's part of our culture. Anyone who is coming into our program has a safe place to come and be themselves and work hard and compete hard. They want to be there — and we're going to get the best out of them.”
Woodinville will travel to eastern Washington on Sept.14 for the Wenatchee Invitational. The season then starts in earnest on Sept. 21, against Bothell.
We want to get to State,” Sayah said. “It's something we didn't get to last year. And not just getting to State, but getting a big team to State. If we can get a relay [team] there,
we don't just send those four athletes, we send four alternates as well. If we can get relays to qualify then we can send a big team down to State.
“I want to make sure everyone is having fun and being treated well and with respect,” Sayah added. “It starts with me and the coaching staff we've put together. It trickles down and the athletes treat each other right and it helps energize the whole team. I like this year’s team.”