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Coaches report: Minot boys swim HC Jake Solper

The defending state champion Minot boys swim and dive team plans to have a busy few days on its hands to close out the week.

On Friday afternoon, MHS is scheduled to host a multi-dual against Grand Forks Central and Red River. Then on Saturday morning, the Magi will take part in the Minot Invitational against Bismarck Legacy, Williston and Mandan.

Having won every competition to this point in the season, The Minot Daily News asked Magicians head coach Jake Solper about how the club can maintain its level of consistency, and what areas of improvement need to be addressed as the year continues. Here is what Solper had to say via email.

MDN: From a team perspective, do you think the team has met your expectations thus far?

Solper: The team has had an incredible start to the season. Coming into the season, there were a plethora of uncertainties. The swimmers and divers have taken a very positive approach to every opportunity we have had to train and compete. Things have been a little different this year with mitigation strategies during practices and meets. One of the most important things that hasn’t changed is the attitude of the athletes day in and day out.

MDN: Talk about the overall development of your seniors and the stability they provide for your younger competitors.

Solper: Every season, we turn to our senior class for leadership. They know what it takes to realize success as a team. Success, in my mind, isn’t measured in championship banners, it is realizing the team’s potential each year.

There is only one team each season that gets to hang a banner. However, there are many more teams who did everything right throughout the season and performed at or above any expectations set. We want each athlete to finish the season knowing they did everything they could to help the team realize success. Our seniors do an incredible job at leading by example and offering guidance for underclassmen who are learning the ropes.

MDN: Winning every competition to this point, how do you guard against complacency?

Solper: Complacency is always a threat for teams. It can sneak up on you without knowing it. When you go to practice four to five days a week (depending on competitions), and compete once or twice a week, things can start to feel routine. When things start to feel routine, one can slip into a ‘going through the motions’ phase.

Fortunately, our guys really like to compete. If one diver learns a new dive, you better believe the others won’t be far behind. If a swimmer, who generally out touches his training partner, gets beat by the guy next to him, you better believe there will be significantly more intensity on the next rep. Having this internal daily competition at practice keeps our guys sharp and focused.

MDN: What has been the biggest obstacle for your team as it relates to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?

Solper: As previously stated, our guys have taken a very positive approach to this unique season. We are all grateful to have a season. Leading up to the start of the winter sports season, there were a lot of question marks. We all recall when this pandemic chose to reveal its unpleasant face. We felt fortunate to finish our season last year, but we know not all sports teams had a similar fate. Knowing that the season was cut short for those athletes who had worked all season really drove home the fact that we need to be grateful for every day we get to compete.

MDN: What are some areas of improvement you would like to address as the season continues?

Solper: Our athletes take a proactive approach to their improvement, and diving coach Barb McPeak is incredible at giving feedback after each dive in practice.

Our swimmers practice with purpose. As we move through the regular season competitions, we ask that our guys try different race strategies and focuses. What is really great to hear from guys after a performance is their reflection of that performance. To me, it doesn’t matter if what they did worked really well or was something they hope to never repeat. Both ways learning happened. Figuring out what will lead to a peak performance at the end of the season is what we are after. Knowing what works and what doesn’t work is vital in building confidence.

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