Swim coach Dean Boles moving on

Long-time member of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks community, Dean Boles, will be leaving the purple and gold in September to pursue a position as a provincial mentor coach with Swim Ontario.

Boles was a member of the WLU swim team himself, beginning in 1980, before becoming head coach of both the men’s and women’s varsity teams in 1987.

“I’ve had great successes over the years, with the number of swimmers we’ve put on the Olympic teams and the numbers of swimmers who have been competitive in the CIS league,” said Boles.

“I think I’ve covered pretty much everything possible in that line of coaching for now. “

During his time as coach, Boles was named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) coach of the year three times as well as CIAU – now known as Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) – coach of the year in 2000.

For the past 22-years Boles has strictly volunteered his time as the swim coach and this past year, with rumors circulating about the pool being closed permanently, he learned just how fragile that position was.

With cutbacks taking place at WLU, Boles’ part-time teaching position in the kinesiology program was cut. “The reality was it’s not going to change and you have to look out for yourself.”

Boles does, however, have many positive memories from the time he spent with the Golden Hawks.

“The other side of it for me is I will be taking on a new challenge, working with clubs and still with universities and coaches and the swimmers,” said Boles.

“Maybe I can take the things I learned during my time here and use them to help swimming in the province.”

In his new position Boles will be working with coaches and teams to develop stronger youth swimming programs across the province.

“Training camps is one of the things I’m a big believer in,” said Boles.

“Bringing good swimmers together and training them in three or five days, I think that goes a long way and really helps the athletes become even better.”

One of the things Boles wants to do is better incorporate the university sector into youth programs, with the hopes of keeping student athletes in Canada for their post-secondary education.

Boles notes that the main thing he will remember from his time at WLU is the people.

“Back in the days of Rich Newbrough and Don Smith, they allowed the ROW swim club to come in and form that relationship, and that was really a key point,” said Boles. “It allowed swimmers like Victor Davis and Mike West to go on to the ’84 Olympics and win medals.”

He added that the relationship which Peter Baxter, the current director of Laurier Athletics, has maintained between the club and the university has been a very important one.

Boles will also remember all of the athletes he has coached over the years. “They were pretty special people, not just great athletes.”

“I got to know athletes in other varsity sports through the Kin department as well, and the people are pretty special. The Laurier community is a special one, one that needs to be recognized,” Boles added.

Along with the people he has coached over his 22 years, there are a few moments that he will never forget.

“Getting my first Olympic qualifier was pretty special, with Laura Nicholls in 1996,” said Boles.

“But most recently, in 2008, with Keith Beavers making the finals in the Olympics, and meeting all the goals that we set out in the three-year path to get there. That was pretty rewarding.”

Boles noted that WLU is currently in the process for searching for a new swim coach, but that he will be involved in the transition to ensure everything flows smoothly.

“I do see myself still playing a role [in the team]; I won’t be washing my hands of the whole thing. I do want to see both the University and the club thrive. It just needs some new energy, and if I can help with that I will,” he concluded.