February 5, 2017
By now most of Canyons Aquatic Club and the national swim community are aware that our head coach, Coley Stickels, will be heading to Indiana to take the Associate Head Sprint Swim Coach position for the Hoosiers. Canyons has had a long tradition of outstanding coaches, each leaving a valuable imprint on the team. Bruce Patmos coached Canyons from the late 80’s until 2005 when he left to coach in Ohio. Jeff Conwell was then promoted to Head Coach until 2012 when he left to coach in Palm Springs and now Coley will be moving on as well. Canyons is fortunate that our coaches have always moved on to new opportunities and on their own terms. We like to think of our coaches as family, and everyone is always happy when family does well.
Coley has had an amazing run with Canyons over the past four years. The first place to look is at our record books where the majority of our club records have been broken under his control. These are not just the open and top age group records, but records from every age group. Not only has Coley rewritten our record books, but he’s laid waste to Southern California Swimming’s record books where Canyons Aquatic Club now holds more Southern California records for girls 15-18 of any club in Southern California including Mission Viejo. For the boys, Canyons owns the second most of any club for all age groups 15-18 and boys and girls combined, we own the most records of all teams. In total Canyons and Coley have seen 50 Southern California Swimming records were broken by Canyons swimmers, five American records, one world record, six National Age Group records and four national high school records. That's a lot to fit on one page of a resume.
Then there are the championships meets, from JO Championships, to Sectional Championships to Junior Nationals and even finishing #3 at this winter’s National Championships, Coley has made the Canyons name and logo a familiar site across the nation.
Then there are the myriad of individual swimmer achievements that are too numerous to mention. As recent as a few months ago he had two 18 & under national champions crowned at the USA Nationals. Add to that countless Sectional champions and Junior national champions and the crowning achievement – Abbey Weitzeil. Abbey was a great swimmer before Coley arrived, but under his guidance she became an outstanding swimmer…well outstanding is a slight understatement since she broke the American record in the 100 and 50 free, made the Olympic team, earned a gold and a silver medal and became a household name during her time with Coley and Canyons.
Then there are the college scholarships, not just a few, but dozens totaling in the millions of dollars in value. Coley helped swimmers of all levels get money to attend college and compete. From top D1 programs on down, Coley continued Canyons tradition of sending more athletes to college on scholarships than any other sport in Santa Clarita.
All this is just an overview of Coley’s achievements in the past 4 years. The details, which will spell out over the next few months, are far more mindboggling.
With success like that it was only a matter of time before major programs would come calling. When Coley was finally approached by Ray Looze, head coach of Indiana University, he had to make the difficult decision. In the end Coley made the right choice. At Indiana, he will be the head sprint coach and will have more time to spend with his family and access to one of the best facilities in the nation as well as some of the best swim talent. Granted, he will have to live in Indiana, and while anyone from Indiana reading this may take offense to that statement, please understand we are from California. Weather-wise it does not get any better than this. So yeah, Indiana, you may have our coach, but we will always have the Endless Summer.
Coley will remain with us through most of the upcoming summer with a departure date to be determined in July. As we get close to that date, we will arrange a big So Cal send off for Coley, Lindsay and Cub. In the meantime, it is business as usual. Coley is here, he’s coaching and knowing his competitive spirit, he wants to make this summer historic for Canyons.
Please be sure to wish Coley and family well. Their success is our success. The Canyons Board of Directors will be starting a job search immediately. The intention is to take time and do it right. A national search is underway and we expect several top level coaches to apply for the job (remember that Endless Summer thing, well, we consider that a job benefit). This transition will be seamless and we expect our club to continue to grow and succeed.
From all the Canyons families who beam with pride whenever we see a Canyons sticker on a car, a Canyons shirt on a kid in the mall, a gold medalist wearing our logo, another kid getting a college scholarship and the smile on the face of a swimmer who just set a personal record, we say to coach Coley Stickels, thank you for being part of our family, thank you for making Canyons history and please don’t be a stranger. Our pool will always have deck space for you and your family.