Olympia High coach Stephanie Johnson-Possell will have a little more on her plate this school year.
The Titans’ water polo coach since 2007 was named the school’s swimming and diving coach last week.
Johnson-Possell previously coached Olympia’s swim team until five years ago, when her faculty role on campus required extra hours after school. This time, Johnson-Possell said she feels that the staff she has assembled — one that includes former Titan swimmers — will enable her to handle the increased responsibility.
“I have a fantastic crew of people that are willing to help me balance the two (roles) this year,” Johnson-Possell said.
Johnson-Possell, who has nearly 30 years of experience in education and coaching, has been on campus at Olympia since the school opened in 2001. The former collegiate swimmer has led the water polo programs at Olympia to elite status, with the girls team having reached the FHSAA Final Four in each of the past two seasons.
“When the two sports, swimming and water polo, work hand-in-hand, you develop a fantastic program."
— Stephanie Johnson-Possell, Olympia swimming and water polo coach
Already, there is significant crossover between athletes who swim and play water polo — every member of the water polo team also swims for the Titans — and the veteran coach eyes the opportunity to coach both teams as a means of taking the entire aquatics program to new heights.
“When the two sports, swimming and water polo, work hand-in-hand, you develop a fantastic program,” Johnson-Possell said. “The best programs in the country have swim coaches and water polo coaches that work with each other.”
Johnson-Possell said she is particularly looking forward to working with her swim-team athletes on an individual basis.
“You build a different relationship with athletes when you coach them in swimming as opposed to water polo — it’s a lot more individual attention,” Johnson-Possell said.
And after nearly three decades in the profession, Johnson-Possell said it is the kids at Olympia who have kept her going.
“I’m very lucky to have the types of kids and the types of athletes that I have," Johnson-Possell said. "It’s fun to coach them — they come in working hard. It’s just fun to give them a little bit of Titan pride behind that and watch them do amazing things.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].