Staff Photo: Will Hammock. Kevin Rodgers is an assistant swimming and diving coach at Mill Creek High School, as well as head coach of the Hidden Falls Rapids of the Gwinnett County Swim League.
Kevin Rodgers, 34, is an assistant swimming and diving coach at Mill Creek High School, as well as head coach of the Hidden Falls Rapids of the Gwinnett County Swim League.
Rogers, a 1993 Shamrock High School grad, has three sons -- Brent (9), Blake (7) and Brock (2) -- with his wife Alyza. The University of Georgia grad also coached swimming and tennis at Parkview from 1998 to 2004 before coming to Mill Creek, where he has taught math since 2004.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know...," Rodgers talks with sports editor Will Hammock about Mill Creek's emerging program, Eric Shanteau and his now-defunct high school.
WH: In talking with people, it seems like Mill Creek could be the next high school swimming powerhouse. Do you see that coming?
KR: Yeah, we're getting there. It's just developing the love for swimming and the commitment for swimming, that's the biggest thing we're trying to overcome. The distance for high level swimming is a good distance away from us. That's the challenge in getting people to commit themselves at that distance. They're ready to commit, just not at that level. We've definitely had some good kids come through who were committed to (year-round swimming). That's the only thing that's holding us back a little bit.
WH: When you say distance to high level swimming, just how far it is to a club like SwimAtlanta?
KR: Yeah, going to SwimAtlanta or another club, but SwimAtlanta is the one that dominates out here. It's a good distance down there so it's a matter of people committing that time, carpooling and committing to (year-round swimming).
WH: Winning county for the first time this past season must have been sweet for the girls team. What was that like?
KR: Very exciting. We were definitely pleased with how the kids swam. We thought we had a chance to be able to do it. We weren't sure. We had some things go our way and we played our cards correctly. We put kids in the right position to do well. It was definitely exciting to bring home the first one. At Parkview we were bringing one home pretty much every year.
WH: What attracted you to the Mill Creek area? You were in a pretty good situation at Parkview.
KR: I don't know. Dr. (Rick) Creed decided he was going to go (from Parkview to Mill Creek) and become department chair. I grew up near Lilburn, a town over in Tucker. I thought it would be good to experience a new school and see what opening a school is like, to have that under your belt and know what that experience is like. Me and him get along together, we work together well, so I figured I'd go with him and see how it goes.
WH: Parkview was always the top dog in swimming and diving when you were there. What was that like, always being the favorite?
KR: It was just a nice thing to have. We had so many people at the Dynamo club or the SwimAtlanta club by us and we had strong summer league programs that fed into us. We had some great athletes coming through there. ... The kids worked hard and the kids who worked hardest got the most out of it. It was a true feeling of kids believing in each other.
WH: What do you remember most about (2008 Olympian and Parkview grad) Eric Shanteau?
KR: The biggest thing is he led that team in the water. He let his actions speak for him. We'd always talk and be thinking about a record to help him and motivate him, different opportunities of becoming nationally known with records and challenging themselves. Eric took it seriously and it helped him with his swimming. He didn't train with us but it was a beauty for him to show up at every meet and do the best he could. He gave it his all for his school. That was something neat to see. A lot of USS kids don't necessarily have that love for the high school team, especially during that time.
WH: Parkview had such a great run in all sports during that time. Was there a competition between all the programs to keep up?
KR: No, I don't think so. The thing at Parkview, everybody really respected each other. They wanted them to do well. Everybody supported each program as best they could. I remember swimmers would go to football games on Friday nights and show up early Saturday morning to swim. It was a great time to be there. It was a pleasure to watch everybody play.
WH: What sports did you play growing up?
KR: I pretty much played everything we had. The only thing I didn't play was football. I played soccer, baseball, I swam, all those other little things. And tennis.
WH: You were probably a superstar, right?
KR: No, no, no. Not that good. I was just an average athlete. Back then.
WH: What was your best sport?
KR: My best sport turned out to be soccer. I wasn't necessarily a year-round swimmer or a dedicated swimmer. I did summer league and high school. I did OK for me in swimming. I wasn't necessarily as fast as some other kids that came through Shamrock. Soccer ended up being my best sport.
WH: Is it sad Shamrock is not a high school anymore?
KR: It's kind of weird. We had a banquet the year after we were going to become a middle school. We had a records forever plaque given to us and I had the 200 free relay and a diving record. It's funny. I have the plaque in my room. I have a record forever and no one can take it. No one knows it though. It's a unique thing but it's weird.
WH: How did you and your wife meet? At Shamrock?
KR: We met after high school. We were teaching lessons at Dynamo Swim Club at the Chamblee center. We were teaching lessons there with kids.
WH: Do you remember your first date?
KR: "Forrest Gump" and McDonald's.
WH: That's class there. Did you order a double cheeseburger?
KR: I don't remember that one.
WH: What song did you dance to at your wedding?
KR: That's a tough one right there. Our first song was "Looks Like We Made It" (actually called "You're Still The One") by Shania Twain.
WH: You've got three boys. Are the oldest two already on the swim team?
KR: The oldest two are on the swim team. They're enjoying it. They enjoy it a lot. The oldest one has done a little more SwimAtlanta-type training. He's also done other sports. He doesn't do swimming all-year long. They enjoy swimming but they enjoy a lot of things. You name a sport and we've probably done it. They've been exposed to lacrosse to soccer to everything.
WH: Just trying to let them try them all out.
KR: Just exposing them to as much as we can. When they get older, they will hopefully pick their favorite.
WH: What's the lure of the Gwinnett County Swim League in the summer? Why do people like it so much?
KR: It's definitely been around for awhile. In the six years up here it's definitely growing. Hamilton Mill and Apalachee were the only teams up here then. Now in the higher division there's Apalachee, Hamilton Mill, Hidden Falls, Daniel Park. It's all come along to help the growth of swimming in this area. Most people grew up in a summer league program in their day at the neighborhood pool. It's what they like to do and they want their kids to be exposed to it. It's a family environment. You've got ages 4 to 18 all in one setting at the same time. It's very family friendly. You have competition with teams but your kids are in charge of challenging themselves and improving on their own little times. And the younger kids get to see how the older kids do things.
WH: It gets pretty crazy with everything going on at those meets. Is it hard for a coach to stay focused on the pool?
KR: You have to have great help. I have great help at my facility. I have certain people who do things to make my life much easier than it has been in the past. Those people knowing what to do alleviates a lot of behind the scenes stuff. It's just making sure they stay in control. We refer to it as controlled chaos. You have to be in this area at a certain time. Other than that stay in your team areas. Somehow it always works out.