Shawnee Dispatch

Cougars find successful mix in 2007

June 12, 2007

In baking or chemistry, there's something to be said for letting the ingredients mingle for a while.

Sometimes a chef or a chemist needs to put all the ingredients in, mix them up, and remain patient in waiting for the result in either the perfect chemical reaction or the proper combination of flavors.

The same can be said for swimming. At least when you take the case of the 2007 Shawnee Mission Northwest Lady Cougars swimming and diving team and coach Scott Virden.

Virden helped take a team that was full of talented, raw "ingredients," which had the misfortune of getting its third new head coach in three years, and mixed them together for a pleasing result: one of the top 11 swimming and diving programs in the state. It was a finish that Virden credited to his first Cougars squad.

"I think that, with everything that's gone on for them, it's been harder on them," Virden said. "It's a testament to them. They developed a patience. It was the first time in a long time that someone's been focused on them as a team instead of individuals."

Virden described the efforts of team leaders such as sophomore swimmer Brooke Brull and junior diver Erin Schuberth as key to the cohesiveness his team found at the end of the season. Both Brull and Schuberth earned both all-Sunflower League and all-state honors for Northwest.

"Brooke didn't let anything faze her all season," Virden said. "She has a really nice, quiet exterior, but when she swims she's all business. It's the way she approaches her races. She got faster for us every time out.

"Erin was pretty mentally tough all season," he added. "There was a mental block she was having earlier in the season but she got past that. She started applying those things I've talked about, about having visual goals. She even showed me the ones she had written down on the way to the state meet."

Virden acknowledged that departing seniors Chelsea Murray, Melody Schongar and Becca Lake will leave a huge hole to fill in the program, but that senior-to-be Mandy Osborne and underclassmen Hannah Singhal, Shelby Connor, Adrian Celli and Ryan Shelton will look forward to meeting the challenge. Virden also pointed to a talented freshman class led by club and year-round swimmer Sara Wilcox that will give the Cougars much needed support.

"I think we're going to have some much needed depth next year," Virden said. "We'll have a chance to be even better next year."

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