Ooltewah Tidal Waves Win Over Visiting Catoosa Great White Sharks
Thursday, June 17, 2021 - by Joseph Dycus
The Catoosa Great White Sharks and Ooltewah Tidal Wave duked it out over three and a half hours in an interstate swim meet at Ooltewah’s swim center. While Ooltewah won easily, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by the way both teams (and their families) were cheering throughout the entire meet.
“I’m happy everybody got behind the blocks and cheered and tried hard,” Ooltewah coach Stephen Jones said. “I’m really proud of that, and that alone is really special. When I grew up that didn’t happen, so to have half of the team on the side of the pool right now, even though most of them are done, it’s pretty cool and special.”
When asked to spotlight a particular swimmer, the coach decided to praise the entire 170-plus person team, who he said is as dedicated to their craft as a coach could hope for.
“I don’t want to put anyone else up above anyone else, just because of how hard everyone has been working in practice.
Everyone has been doing an awesome job showing up every morning at 7:00, and they’ll probably show up that early tomorrow even though we’re not going to leave here till 9:30.”
The Tidal Wave’s other coach Todd Jones said they are “lucky and blessed” to have so many enthusiastic swimmers on the team. He gave attention to the youngest swimmers on the team, saying that while it’s easy to get caught up with the success of their older teammates, it would be unwise to neglect the newer swimmers.
“You can’t focus on one kid more than any other,” Todd Jones said. “The little kids are your future so you have to bring them along. The big kids may be winning right now and are doing great, and you want them to improve. But you can’t keep your eye off the little ones either.”
We try to cultivate a team atmosphere. I think the kids really enjoy that because they get a taste of a lot of other team sports. They know it’s for points, so they need the six year-olds to win and the 16 year olds to win, so it’s across the board.
We are thankful they agreed to come up here, because they’re not in our division. They wanted another meet, and we’re very appreciative of them coming up here and giving us another meet after what has been a haphazard year.
Catoosa coach Evan Moeller’s team didn’t win, but he was proud of how well his team competed against superior competition. Catoosa is not in Ooltewah’s region, but they gladly answered the call when Ooltewah came searching for an opponent.
“A lot of these Ooltewah kids are club kids, and their seniors will be swimming in college. So for them to be exposed to that level of competition and not be intimidated by them was great.
Like coach Jones, he was proud of his youngest swimmers. Some swimmers at the meet were as young as five or six.
“Our little kids did really well. Most of my younger kids, 11 and younger, summer swim in the only swimming they do year-round,” coach Moeller said. “So I’m just trying to get them to do simple techniques and to swim legal. For my older kids, I’m giving them little tips and things to use when they race.”
Before leaving for home, coach Moeller invited local kids to come out and swim with the team next season.
If people want to come out next season, then come on out to Catoosa County,” the coach said. “If you can swim a 25 meter, we will hold you. We have kids from Cumberland and Calhoun. Anyone who wants to come is more than welcome.
Ooltewah triumphed 523-269 over Catoosa County. Reece Gallagher scored 32 and Wade Christopher scored 28 combined for the Great White Sharks. Meanwhile, Ethan and Liam Runkle both got 38 for Ooltewah, as did Makayla McInnes and Meena Colmenares.