After 16 years supporting the Eagan High School girls swim team, Coach Steve Van Dyne is leaving to cheer on his own daughter, who will start her high school swimming career next fall.
Van Dyne announced his retirement in an email to high school parents last week. Van Dyne, a former collegiate swimmer at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., took the coaching job in Eagan in 1997, after serving as the Richfield High School boys swimming coach and in local club programs.
"My oldest daughter is going to swim high school next year and I can't imagine not being able to watch her compete," Van Dyne wrote in his email. "While this might be one of the hardest things for me to do, I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do."
Van Dyne, whose coaching tenure includes an 11-year stint as the Eagan boys swimming coach, saw plenty of individuals and teams place highly in state competitions.
But it's the individuals, not the titles, that he'll miss most.
"I’ve had state champion swimmers, I’ve had teams that placed in the top three in state," Van Dyne said. "It always come back to the teams that I had and the individuals who have stood out through my career."
Watching the athletes on each team come together and form strong bonds was one of Van Dyne's highlights each year. With a strong crop of older swimmers returning to the program, Van Dyne feels that he's leaving a team well positioned for future success.
Eagan High School Athletic Director Sandra Setter agrees.
"Our numbers in our [swimming] programs are very strong and have been growing the past several years," Setter said on Monday. "He has had multiple althletes who have been state qualifiers and multiple individual state champions. Coach Van Dyne is a strong advocate for swimming and will be missed as our head coach at Eagan High School."
As for advice for his future successor? Van Dyne had this to say:
“Everyone comes in with a little something different, all I can say is always believe in the girls, believe in what they’re capable of."