50 Years, 50 Titans: Pete Watson

Heather Scibetta

Did you ever wonder how the Titans came to be?  We learned a few months ago, that the Titans were originally called the Seahawks.  But who started the Seahawks?  Back in the day, there was a team known as the Water Buffaloes and not every swimmer was invited to join.  These parents wanted their children to have a chance to swim too. So, thanks to the efforts of Sandy Watson and some other parents, the Town of Tonawanda Seahawks was formed.  The initial development and all the early board meetings took place in the Watson’s basement around Sandy’s pool table (check out the pictures we have!). 

We recently interviewed Pete Watson, Sandy’s son.  He was one of the original members and then amongst the first coaches for the team. The Board of Directors included the original coaches, Lee Herbst (who was the varsity coach at Kenmore East), Bob Maxwell (who was the KE JV coach), Bob Pufpaff (Varsity Coach at Kenmore West), Bob Kohler (JV coach at KW), Jim Burgess, and Pete. Pete swam the first 4 years of the team along with Jim Turner, who would later become the head coach of the team.

What inspired you to start a swim club in the Town of Tonawanda?
There were two factors that motivated the formation of the team. The first was that in the Niagara Frontier League of High School Swimming, the main competitors, Niagara Wheatfield and North Tonawanda, had summer programs. Kenmore East and Kenmore West had no such programs. The coaching staffs at these Kenmore Schools wanted a similar summer program.

The second motivation was that the preeminent WNY private team, Water Buffaloes, was an invitation only team and many of the Kenmore High School swimmers were not invited. My father, Sandy Watson, wanted a more inclusive alternative to Water Buffaloes.

How long were you part of the team?
I swam for the team for 4 years, and served on the Board for the same period.

How many swimmers made up the team at the start?
I would estimate 30-40.

Where did the team practice?
Evening practices were at Brighton Pool. Morning Practices were added later at Mang Pool.

Any outstanding dates, meets, years, swimmers that stand out?
There was a solid core of swimmers from both High Schools. The first Town of Tonawanda Swim Club hosted meet occurred during the first years, held at Brighton Pool as an age-group meet.

What is your favorite memory of the team? 
Cheektowaga Township All Relay meeting. Jim Turner, Dennis Oscar, and myself (with a fourth swimmer I can’t remember) out dueled Water Buffaloes in the 200 breast stroke relay. Remember that “exclusive” Water Buffaoles team????

We were extremely honored to have Pete join us for our 50th Anniversary celebration on July 23rd via bicycle all the way from his hometown in Colorado! A huge thank you to Pete for telling us all about our origin story and sharing these awesome pictures of where it all began.  We are proud that our club was created for the purpose of inclusivity and that is still our #1 core value today.   

More photos: