12/19/2013 12:51:00 PM Wakefield steps down from coaching girls swimming team
by JEFF NORTON
After 17 years in charge of the girls swimming and diving program, Ed Wakefield is resigning from his position and leaving it in a new pair of hands.
“I leave this position with a heavy heart. We have had the best bunch of girl swimmers and divers year after year and I hold a special place in my heart for every one of those girls and the great families they come from,” Wakefield said of his tough decision. “This was a very hard decision to make and I did not take it lightly. The main reason for me leaving is my little girls. With an eight-year-old and a two-year-old they need time with their dad. I don’t want to have to miss out on whatever they decide to take on. I need to be there for them and my wife, who by the way, has been a huge supporter of mine throughout the years.”
Wakefield has had numerous state competitors in both swimming and gymnastics -- a sport he coached his first nine years at Chisago Lakes. He recently coached the school’s first state champion in swimming in Thomi Lee, who won the 500 freestyle championship in 2012. Even with that championship swimmer on his checklist, Wakefield couldn’t quite pinpoint the best memory he had as a coach, as there was so many. “Man, there are so many memories. I think I would just have to say the great kids I have coached. There have been big accomplishments like sending gymnastics teams to state, sending many swimmers to state and having medal winners and even a state champion,” he explained. “Those memories are so great but still everything goes back to how great the kids have been and how hard they work. I would not have stayed with it so long if it were not for such great kids who made my job a pleasure.”
Throughout the years, it wasn’t just Wakefield who was guiding the swimmers and gymnasts. He had plenty of help along the way and appreciated all of it. “I really would like to thank Ellen Heath. She has been our assistant for I don’t even know how many years, a long time. She has been so great to work with and does such an amazing job with these girls. Like any great assistant she has been doing a great deal of my work for years and most times without me even asking her too,” he said. “Then the Willhite’s. Lisa being our diving coach for so many years and taking diver after diver to state and then Lisa’s son Brian taking over for his mom and doing the same awesome job. I could not have asked to have better diving coaches. “For a few years we also had Jim Sauerbry helping out, also fantastic with the kids and great swimming knowledge. This season we added Sarah Williamson as a part time coach and that was a great move too. I have been surrounded by such a great staff, and that has had so much to do with the success of the program.”
“His relationship with his team is always positive and meaningful,” Chisago Lakes Activites Director Neil Fletcher added. “He will truly be missed by his kids!” Fletcher said that the Wildcats will begin searching for a new coach immediately and they are taking applications until January 10. The change will signal a complete overhaul for the Wildcats swimming program. On the boys side, Brian McNally just took over the head coaching job after Mark Nordby resigned after six years at the helm.