Swim/Dive Grows Despite Last Minute Coaching Changes


Tyler Schur/Polaris Staff

Coach John Hower, left, talks with diver Jordan Kramer during the HAC tournament at Southeast High School

Kaden Meyer, Editor-in-Chief

In 2018, North Star hired a new head dive coach. Five days before the start of the season, that coach backed out. The athletic department sent an email to teachers and staff asking if anyone was interested in coaching the dive team.

On Nov. 11, 2018, English teacher Johnny Hower woke up, on his birthday, and said “You know what? I’m feeling crazy,” and with no previous dive experience and five days to learn how to be a dive coach, Hower took the job.

Three years later, he says it was one of the best experiences of his life.

Swim coach Mikara Feit leaps in excitement with assistant coach David Crosby, left, as junior Karissa Faust wins the 500M during their dual with Northeast. This was Feit’s first year as head coach for the Gators. (Haylee Pascoe/Gator Galaxy)

“I said, ‘Why not coach? Why not try something new? Why not help two state divers,” Hower said. “I had our athletic directors send for books. I took a couple courses. And tried to get up to speed as soon as I could.”

One of his biggest concerns was that the divers wouldn’t trust him, because he knew nothing about the sport.

“Trust is pretty big in an athletic program,” said Hower. He said he feels like it’s made him a better coach and helped him to better understand the mental side of sports.

This year, special education teacher Mikara Feit was offered the job as head swim coach two weeks before the season started. Feit swam in college at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and has coached multiple club swimming teams in Lincoln since 2017. Feit said one of the biggest challenges she faced was getting to know the athletes and building relationships with them.

Senior Jordan Kramer concentrates, thinking about his upcoming dive, during the HAC tournament at Southeast High School. (Tyler Schur/Polaris Staff)

The swim team is small,  but has many returning team members..

Senior Samantha Fox just missed qualifying for state last year and holds the 100M backstroke record at North Star.

Coach Feit hopes to get more boys qualifying for state this year.

The dive team has two returning state qualifiers returning, seniors Natalee Keodouangdy and Jordan Kramer who have both qualified for the state meet since they were freshmen. Kramer qualified for the state met and broke the school record in diving.

Coach Hower said he has many fresh faces that he is expecting big things from in the future.

Both the coaches said the best thing about this team is how close they are. In the first weeks of practice, the team had a team movie night in the pool on floaties.

Hower commends the veterans’ willingness to help new athletes, who have little experience in any way they can.

The State Swim/Dive Championships will be held Feb. 24-26 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.