That uncharted feeling is offset by who will be in Wooster, a cadre of volunteers who have been in their positions and have worked to make Freedlander the historically smooth-functioning meet it has been over the past four decades.
“It does have a different feel,” said Rob Harrington, The College of Wooster’s men and women’s swim coach, who is also one of the Wooster Parks and Rec coaches and one of those coaches who has taken on different duties this year. “I think the biggest difference is that in the past as a coach I relied heavily on Larry Smucker and his expertise and his dedication and involvement and I didn’t really worry about things.
“All I had to do was show up and coach and help set up the timing system. Looking back at things, much of the big picture was left to Larry. This year my eyes have been opened, not just in running Freedlander as a big meet. I’ve run big meets on my own, in conjunction with (former Scot swim coach and current Wooster athletic director) Keith Beckett. We’ve put on national-level meets and put on the Wooster Invite, which has 400 college students.
“This is a much bigger meet for probably the city of Wooster and the number of people and parents we bring in and how important to our club program. This is our primary fundraiser. It makes a lot of great things happen, not just for Freedlander Pool, but the money that goes back into operations. It’s exciting.”
While Harrington knew the workload would be different this year, “this year has been great,” he said.
“I know I didn’t worry about this in the past … and this year I’m more aware,” he said. “We have had a lot of parents, and particularly our booster group, step up big time not just for the running of the Freedlander Meet, but the general daily operations. That has been exciting to see.
“I was nervous at the beginning of the year taking on Larry’s load. I enjoyed the idea of being a coach and not worrying about management. I am playing more of a role in the program this summer, but we’ve left it up to people like Keith Cornelius, Melissa Rooney and Beth Davis, who have all done a stellar job. Keith is president of the booster club and he’s done a lot of things behind the scenes making things happen. Beth has put a lot on her shoulders keeping parents updated. She does a daily email – in fact, sometime five daily emails – to keep our parent base informed and more involved. Melissa is our treasurer and she’s gotten us sponsors and done a great job.
“I really feel like in the past Larry, God bless him, did so much for program. Now it’s divide and conquer. People are stepping up and doing little jobs and now everyone understands what goes into running the program.”
As Harrington noted, there are dozens more people trying to make things happen to enhance the club and the meet.
“I know there are other people I’m going to forget, but people like Grady Suggs and his wife are involved in helping getting the meets officiated and organizing timers. He has also helped by being our technical advisor and he helped buy a computer for the swim team. We’re trying to update our PA system … with more wireless mics. Before we had to run info back and forth; now an announcer can sit with the people producing the results and that has streamlined our meet.
“Another one of the cool things from the winter is Jeff Collins. He was hired by the booster club to help be more of a team administrator. He helps run the timing system and he’s our Hytech manager to help put our meet together. He’s also president of the MOSL (Mid-Ohio Swim League) now … and he helps coach our year-round program.
“Another is Charlotte Mitchell. She’s not on the committee, but she’s going to play a big role. She is taking care of all the entries, and with 730 athletes coming in at last count, that is impressive. Frank Bonezzi has kids on both the year-round and summer teams and he helps sponsor the meet and he runs our 50/50 portion. He really gets people to give money to support us.
“We also have Karrie Foster, who is in charge of concessions; Sharon Schmidt is in charge of the timers, and Matt and Holly Chelf are in charge of taking care of the information booth so people who have a question about where to go or even need information about the city of Wooster can go there. And, we have volunteers cleaning windows and cleaning toilets at the (Freedlander) Chalet to make sure everything is ready to go.”
As Harrington said again, he’s sure he’s missed others contributing to the meet, but the result is the same: “People are working their tails off to make things happen for the kids and the community. It’s nice to show them Freedlander, which is one of longest standing outdoor meets in Ohio and it could be one of the longest outside the high-school state meet. I doubt there are many swim meets put on for this number of athletes in Ohio outdoors. There are not many 50-meter pools in Ohio.”
The meet will begin at 6 p.m. July 6 with the longer distance events across age groups and resume at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday mornings. The younger swimmers (8-under, 9-10 and 11-12) will compete in the morning, with the older swimmers (13-14, 15-18 and open) competing in the afternoon.
Published: July 5, 2012