Dexter girls’ swimming and diving team members and Coach Cory Bergen made an appearance before the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education Monday night during the regular board meeting to receive kudos from Dexter’s top education officials after an impressive season.
Dexter beat out East Grand Rapids and a slew of other top swimming and diving teams by five or more points last month to clinch the state title.
Each member of the team will receive a certificate of congratulations from the board at a later date, as they were not printed in time for the board meeting, although each of the girls had a chance to shake Board President Michael Wendorff’s hand and receive his kind words and warm reception as the team assembled for a photo opp during which more than a half dozen photographers took pictures of Dexter’s champs.
Wendorf, himself a parent with a background in the world of swim and dive, congratulated both the team and Coach Bergen, who has been recognized several times in the past couple of years alone with designations as a “top coach” by the Michigan High School Coaches Association last November and as “Coach of the Meet” at both the 2014 and 2015 State Meets.
“There have been so many honors that the program has earned in the past couple of decades,” Wendorf said. “There have been 18 SEC championships in a row and also a run of at least 10 consecutive years where the team has earned all state academic honors.”
Wendorf added that he hopes the girls keep that second streak in particular going, once those team members who entered DHS in 2011 have completed their high school careers so their academic achievements can be evaluated in total.
Bergen joked about the awards that he has won: “These girls swim fast, I get awards … that’s how this works.”
He’s been with the program for over 20 years now and knows his teams inside and out.
At Monday’s meeting, he said that he was savoring the victory and accolades still, as he has his work cut out for him next season.
“We have four seniors and 10 swimmers at the meet and we had nine who swam the second day and five of those are seniors,” he explained. “We got a lot of points, but we’re losing half of those.”
Although he’s cautiously optimistic, his program was facing heavy losses of seasoning high-performing team members to graduation attrition as well, and here his program is being lauded month after month since the season began in August.
“Last year to this year we lost a lot of points to seniors who left and I think there were only four people returning who had ever scored as individuals and this year we had eight score and one who scored on a relay — those kids just developed, and they developed enough to win the state title.”
Bergen credited this year’s team for firing on all cylinders and “maxing out” the absolute peak of his expectations for each of them as their coach and mentor.
“They did everything that we asked them to do,” he concluded.
Wendorf told the girls that medals and certificates are great, but there’s something greater that they’ll one day carry with them long after leaving the swimming and diving team.
“What are two things that every swimmer has boxes of? Ribbons and medals,” Wendorf said. “As we all know, those ribbons sometimes tatter and your medals sometimes tarnish, but the accomplishment of being state champions and excellent students and the bonds that you build and the discpline that you learn through the commitment you make to swimming and the team and excellence and doing well in school, those are the gifts of a lifetime. Those never tatter, they never tarnish, they’re always bright and shiny and they’re always something that you can be extremely proud of as we are of all of you.”