Was digging through the closet tonight and looking for a shirt to wear as I was changing out of my work clothes.
I then came across this shirt. It was on the bottom of the pile. It usually means that I do not wear them often. And then I realized that it was 15 years ago this November that I bought this shirt. It was something that brought me back to one of the times in my life as a swim coach that I will never forget.
But this story needs a little back drop.
Back in 1996 we did not have great internet access and WISCA did not have a cool Top 30 web site. Teams and Coach’s had wait for our weekly US Postal mail to come to see how our kids were ranked across the state in their respective events.
That season, we had a strong team. The unassuming leader of our team was a senior captain by the name of Amy Mickschl. Amy was quiet. She was a person that let her actions in the water speak for her. Her junior year was the first year that the private schools were allowed to compete at the WIAA level. WISAA was on the way of disbanding.
With a couple weeks left in the regular season, during one of our regular chats, Amy and I had come to point where we needed to decide which events to swim at state. It was a forgone conclusion that one event would be the 200 freestyle, she had finished 3rd the year before at the State meet. The other event was tough. Amy’s favorite stroke was backstroke and she had finished 6th at the State meet in 1995. Problem was that there was a swimmer from La Crosse by the name of Pam Hanson that was about two to three seconds faster than Amy. Pam ended up going to Tennessee on a swimming scholarship.
So it was decided we would try the 500 free at the Parkland / Metro Conference meet. If we did well,we would try it again as Sectionals. The thought was to go around 5:15 and that would be solid enough to swim the following week at Sectionals. You have to remember that Amy was such a good backstroker that she had previously gone 5:25 for a 500 Backstroke in a dual meet.
Conference came and Amy became a Conference Champion and school record holder by going 5:10.39. The decision was made almost instantaneously.
Sectionals that that year was being held at Nicolet High School. I know Dwight Davis, the coach there. He is a great guy. He too has had many swimmers go through his program that were dynamite. His star that season was Nicole Kohrt She had not lost very often and was swimming in her own pool.
Amy easy out paced her to win the 200 Freestyle. Then the 500 Freestyle came around. Nicole and Amy were neck and next the entire race for every turn. They ended up in a tie for first with times of 5:09.11.
At the time the WIAA only handed out 1st place medals, and there were no extras. Nicole stood on the first place podium of the block in lane 1 and Amy stood on the block in lane 2. Even though they tied.
The time of 5:09.11 was the fastest seed from all of the Sectionals. And because Kohrt comes before Mickshl alphabetically, Nicole was seeded number 1 and Amy was seeded number 2 for the State Championship Meet. We found that out on Wednesday before State because the WIAA had to print the programs up.
There was a silent hush of determination those last three days of practice. It was almost as if Amy and I knew what was going to happen.
Amy wins the 200 Freestyle. And then wins the 500 Freestyle. At the time it was the 2nd fastest 500 free in Division 1 History. Her time of 5:00.73 just missed the state record.
Now, Amy may remember the story differently. And I have coached other swimmers that I remember GREAT stories from them. But there is something about this shirt. Not sure if it is the texture or the smell it has. But this story will always follow this shirt.