OVER THE PAST THREE SEASONS, COACH STEVEN SCHMIDT HAS SEEN HIS GIRLS SWIM TEAM MAKE GIANT LEAPS.
The Frassati Falcons finished sixth at state in 2018, third in 2019 and second in 2020. "We had been really working up to last season for a couple of years," Schmidt said. "We had a really great group of senior leaders who solidified our city championship for two years in a row and hung a TAPPS' runner-up banner this year."
Leading the way for the girls were seniors Emma Dinh, Genevieve Manning and Lauren Lacson, who all received all-state honors. Also earning all-state nods were returners Anna Lackner and Mia Natoli. "I'm so proud of those seniors, who really laid the foundation for us the past few years," he said. "They were helped along the way by Mia and Anna, who will have to carry on their legacy somehow. We have some freshman talent coming up. They could also be special."
On the boys' side, it was Kevin Spartz who had an outstanding performance. "Kevin is leading the charge for us," Schmidt said. "He medaled twice at state and we are building a team around him." As Schmidt continues to build out his program, he believes in a team culture. "Sure, if you have a few good swimmers, you can win some medals," he said. "To have team success, you must have a roster all the way down and across the events. "We have to get swimmers of all experience levels to buy into the program. It's a team effort and that's my goal."
THE FINCHER SISTERS HAVE GROWN UP AROUND THE SPORT OF GOLF, LIVING ON CHAMPIONS GOLF CLUB IN NORTH HOUSTON.
"It was great living on a course," Anna Claire said. "If we got bored, we could go out back and play four holes really quick. We've been surrounded by the golf community since we were really young. Our dad is like a two-handicap, so he really got us into the game. Individual sports just appealed to us more." Ellie started learning the game at an early age as well, carrying on the family tradition. "Our whole family plays golf," Ellie said. "We go out together in the evening. It's given us a lot of great family-time over the years."
Since being at Frassati Catholic, the Finchers have carried the banner for the golf program. In 2017, Anna Claire won her first TAPPS state title…as a freshman. "It has to be my most memorable moment," she said. "I went five-under on the last four holes and won state. I was that quiet kid, right? It was really exciting and I didn't expect that."
She would win a state crown again as a sophomore and finished second as a junior. Her senior year was cut short due to COVID-19, but she left a lasting legacy on the program. Making her own legacy is Ellie, who enters her junior season. She placed fifth overall at state as a freshman in 2019. "My greatest memory so far was winning the Regional Tournament my freshman year by one stroke," Ellie said. "We had moved up to Class 5A and weren't expected to do much that year. With Anna Claire moving on, it's going to be a lot harder. I've never had to take the role of the leader, but I look forward to the opportunity."
While the two are close, they are also somewhat competitive. "It's hard because I'm younger and I didn't really want to beat her," Ellie laughed. "We did push each other to become better." Anne Claire added straight-faced: "I would never live that down if I came back to school and she had beaten me."
The sport has taken the two internationally, playing in Ireland and their favorite player is Tiger Woods. "We like the men's game more," Anna Claire said. The pair also tag along with their father on his other favorite activities. "We grew up shooting guns and archery," Anna Claire said. "Anything outdoors, especially fishing." Anna Claire is off to Texas A&M where she will study engineering to work in the "oil fields of Texas one day". What about Ellie? "I'll probably go to Texas A&M," she said. "It's close to home and she will be there."
Birds of a feather, flock together.