Clinton Township Chippewa Valley swimmers take part in a recent practice. At press time, Chippewa was 3-1 overall on the season.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley swimmers take part in a recent practice. At press time, Chippewa was 3-1 overall on the season.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Chippewa boys swim and dive program being led by a veteran coach

By: Mark Vest | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 28, 2019

 Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Keegen Maguire swims at a recent practice. Maguire has already qualified for the state final.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Keegen Maguire swims at a recent practice. Maguire has already qualified for the state final.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Advertisement

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Chippewa Valley’s boys swim and dive team is being led by a seasoned veteran.

When Shawn Kornoelje learned there was an open coaching position with the program, he decided to try to seize the opportunity.

Kornoelje said that this past fall was his 33rd year of coaching, and his experience includes coaching at the high school, club and university levels.

Some of Kornoelje’s more recent experiences include being an associate head coach for Oakland University’s men’s and women’s teams, as well as coaching a local club program, which is a role he still has.

Kornoelje recently discussed his opportunity with Chippewa.

“I love high school swimming,” Kornoelje said. “I’m a big team person. I love the concept of ‘team.’ I love what it can do for kids. I love the concept of being there for each other and helping each other. I’m big into the growth mindset, and I think ‘team’ lends itself to that really well. I’m real excited about having that opportunity.”

Although many prefer to have specific goals, Kornoelje is a coach who would rather focus on the process of what it takes to be successful. He wants his swimmers to understand that the small things can all add up.

“I want them to understand that how they swim and how fast they swim is really kind (of) up to them. I’m just there to help them,” he said. “I’d like to build a solid program. I’d like to get guys to be better than when they started, and I want them to feel good about that process.”

From Kornoelje’s perspective, a lot of kids are afraid to have high expectations for themselves because they are afraid to fail. That is a mindset he would like to help change.

“It’s OK to fail, and I try to teach (them) that making mistakes is fine, long as you learn from it,” Kornoelje said. “Those are teachable moments, and you move on from it. So, I think those are the big things that I’m trying to get across to these guys. They’re buying into it; they’re learning.”

At press time, Chippewa was 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

As is the case with other programs, getting solid production from swimmers who don’t partake in the sport year-round can be crucial for Chippewa’s success. Kornoelje has been pleased with some of what he has seen in that regard this season.

“I’ve seen the seasonal kids, kids that just swim high school, really starting to take off and get better,” he said. “I’m very excited about that. I think our depth is (going to) be that much better as they keep learning and growing.”

Kornoelje said leading Chippewa has been “great,” and he referred to the administration as “fantastic,” the parent support as “really solid and strong,” and the booster club as “overwhelmingly supportive.”

All of that can help make for a solid program.

“We’re in a beginning stage,” Kornoelje said. “We’re trying to build a culture. Well, we’re not trying — we are. I think we have a ways to go with kids learning about themselves, and learning what they’re capable of. I think that the sky’s the limit.”

Advertisement