Staff Photo. Haley Staubach graduated from Parkview and just finished her sophomore year at the University of South Carolina. She's back home for the summer and the head coach for Bright Water, in her rival Brookwood district.
Haley Staubach, a Parkview grad back from the University of South Carolina for the summer, is the head coach for 150 swimmers on Bright Water's team.
Staubach has been a force in the backstroke and butterfly events for the Gamecocks the past two seasons, including career record times as a sophomore this year. All her best times came at the SEC Championships and her 100 back ranks fifth-best in school history.
At Parkview, Staubach was named team MVP as a freshman, when the Panthers were runner-up at state, and a junior. She was voted most dedicated as a sophomore and a senior. In this installment of 'Getting to Know ...,' Staubach talked to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including coaching for her rival high school cluster, Parkview's record-setting medley relay and the pressure of big meets.
CT: How did you end up as the coach for Bright Water?
HS: I was needing a coaching job and I was at the SECs. The Sweeney family, they've been on this team for a couple years now, told me that Bright Water needed a coach. They gave me a number and, viola! Which was lucky.
CT: You graduated from Parkview. So now you're coaching kids from your rival high school?
HS: (laughing) They're always, 'Coach Haley, where did you go to school?' I'm like, 'I don't know.' They say, 'Did you go to that other school?' I was like, 'I did.'
CT: You earned a number of honors swimming in high school. A couple years removed, do any of those mean more than another?
HS: I think there was our medley relay that we have the record at Parkview. That record is not going to be moved for a really long time. It was just an odd combination of girls. Some of them went on to swim in college, some didn't.
CT: Who was on that team?
HS: It was me, Elizabeth Charter, who swims at Gardner-Webb, Caitlin Martin, who swam at Georgia Southern, and Julilanne Kurke.
CT: Had you guys not raced together before or was it just one of those races?
HS: That whole season, because it was my senior year, we had been going back and forth trying to find the perfect match. And it was our state meet, so my last medley relay.
CT: So how are you liking South Carolina after picking it over a number of other quality programs?
HS: It's definitely challenging. I love the school. As far as athletics go, it's an SEC school, so a lot of big stuff going on over there.
CT: How familiar were you with the school before you picked it?
HS: When I went there, I liked that it's an older school and they kept a lot of the older buildings. Like some of the buildings, you can't drink out of the water fountains because they have like asbestos. Which I think gives it character.
Then the team there. A lot of times you take recruiting trips and people are selling you crap about 'Oh, our girls team all gets along.' This team does. We're all like sisters. So that was important to me.
CT: A couple of the others schools you had offers from were not in the South, including Penn State and Arizona State. What would you have missed if you'd chosen to leave this general area?
HS: (laughing) I would have missed not having to wear a snowsuit to go to class. I'd have never gone to class. And then in Arizona, it'd be way too hot to do anything.
But really, I know how they say Southern hospitality, but I really feel like that in South Carolina. It's 'Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir.' People move slow. I really like it there. It's not like Atlanta.
CT: When did you start swimming?
HS: I think I was in one of those little mommy and me classes. But then my first swim team was the Mountain Park Sharks. I'm pretty sure they're not even called that anymore. It was the Mountain Park outdoor pool with that little bubble. The pool is now a skate park. I did that from, like, 4 to 5, I guess.
Then I went to Hanarry swim/racquet and I was there from age 7 to 18. A long time.
CT: At what point did it become your primary focus?
HS: My mom wanted me to wait until I was older to do year-round swimming because she didn't want me to get burned out. I think I had just turned 10 and that's when I first went to SwimAtlanta, back when it was in Lilburn. Now it is a Carpet Depot and that pool was the size of this room (the lower floor of the club house at Bright Water).
CT: You were there for SwimAtlanta's move to the big facility -- that must have seemed like quite a jump?
HS: Yeah, I was so upset, too. Because it used to be I could throw a rock to it from my house.
CT: When you headed off to USC, was it clear which events you'd be swimming for them?
HS: They really wanted me to just do backstroke then have butterfly as my third event.
This year, our upcoming class has a lot of really good 200 backstrokers and we've lost a lot of our fast 100 backstrokers and 100 butterflyers, which are my other two events. So this year, I think that will be more of my focus.
CT: Are you excited about that?
HS: It'll be different training. I'm hoping more toward sprint work. I'm kind of injured, so that would be better training-wise.
CT: Was it more of a nagging injury or something that happened this season?
HS: My sophomore year of high school I first started having problems. Then I think I have had four Cortisone injections in my shoulder now, which is not so much fun.
CT: What is your favorite event?
HS: 200 backstroke.
CT: Has it always been?
HS: Mmm-hmm. I think I was 11 the first time I did it. I didn't know how many laps it was. I was freaking out. It was long course at the time, which meant it was only four. Then I went to short course and I'm like, 'I'm going to forget (how many laps).'
CT: What are you studying at USC?
HS: I want to be a speech therapist, but you can't really major in that. So I'm majoring in public health with a minor in communication disorders. Hopefully that will be my bridge to the masters program there.
CT: Is it tougher balancing school and swimming in college than it was in high school?
HS: Absolutely. In college, the NCAA says you're only allowed to train 30 hours a week and you're at that (max) all the time.
CT: You seem to swim pretty well at the SEC championships. Do you like the big stage?
HS: I do. I'm not going to lie, my freshman year, I was absolutely terrified. When I went to Olympic time trials, my coach had to hold my hand and walk me into the ready room. I was like, I don't want to do this. Chris Davis is by far, hands-down my favorite coach and always will be. He said, 'I'll hold your hand back there, just like a little kid.' Gave me a hard time about it, but was smiling the whole time. He was just happy we were there.
So then I thought SECs was going to be no big deal. And my other teammates who have gone to international meets said, 'You don't understand.'
I walked in and I was like, 'Oh my God.'
CT: Is it how many people are there?
HS: Not so much. It's that you're standing next to the world record holder in this event and I'm in the first heat. It's like, 'What am I doing here? My legs are the size of her arms.'
CT: What are your summer plans other than coaching here at Bright Water?
HS: I really want to try to suppress my injury. So I'm doing lots of rehab and to keep up in shape, I'm doing lots of running. Because that will kick your butt any day.
CT: Do you have any favorite spots for vacation, when and if you get to take it?
HS: My grandparents have a house on Lake Lanier and we have two jet skis so we usually go out on the weekends. Then we have a little house in Florida, which we sometimes go to. It's good for just the weekend.
But this job is so extensive. The other day I was at the pool from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. I mean, I love it though.
CT: Did you know what you were in for when you took the job?
HS: When they told me it was 150 (swimmers), I was like, 'Are you serious?' I knew what I was getting into, but all the volunteers are great because I can only do so much. And I love all my assistant coaches.
CT: You have two sisters (Hannah and Mallory)?
HS: Yes. They're both younger. They're 10 and 12.
CT: Do they swim?
HS: They used to swim. They wanted to swim on Bright Water this year, but my mom actually just got a job in Birmingham. So the family is in the process of moving this summer.
CT: When is that move planned for?
HS: Mom already moved last week and started her job.
We've been in that same house for 13 years so it's going to be a long move. And my dad his business is actually out of our house. So we'd have to move his whole workshop. He does like medal garden art. So lots of heavy machinery. Sharp things.
CT: Speaking of family, it says on your USC bio that you're a third cousin of Roger Staubach. Is that a distant relation or do you actually know him?
HS: I've never met him. I think my aunt is the only one that's met him. When he was the hospital she went to go visit him.
CT: What kind of music do you listen to most?
HS: That's tricky. I'm more of like a mellow mix kind of person. I think that's just because usually it's just craziness. That and I love Wiz Khalifa.
CT: Are there any TV shows you try not to miss?
HS: I don't ever watch TV except when I come home from college. But when I am at school, I love "Jersey Shore." That's my one guilty pleasure.