When Thomas Faulkenberry was competing for the Lee’s Summit North boys swimming and diving team, he was a part of a winning culture.
The 2015 graduate was a part of a Broncos squad that finished third during his junior year in 2014. He was a part of a program that has finished in the top 10 multiple times in program history.
He helped the program achieve success as an athlete, now he will have a chance to do that as a head coach as he will take over for Brian Ray, who elected to step down after the boys season ended last fall.
“Once my swimming career came to an end, I knew I wanted to stay in touch with the sport,” Faulkenberry said. “I found my way back to Lee’s Summit North and I offered my time to volunteer coach and they ended up hiring me as a full-time assistant that first year.”
Faulkenberry had been an assistant under Ray for the past two seasons and was a part of third-place state team finishes the past two seasons. The new coach wants to continue the winning tradition at North.
“I came into a good situation with a strong roster of swimmers,” Faulkenberry said. “One of my big coaching points since coming on board is championship talent and creating a championship culture. We’ve been right there in the top five, top-10 range the past few years. There has just been that elusive state championship that’s been our goal for a long time.”
Faulkenberry said that will be the goal for the 2019 team that graduated talented seniors such as J.P. Hynes and Grant Godard. But the Broncos still return some key talent, including Daniel Worth, who was the Class 2 state champion in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.
“Every given year, these guys know that there’s got to be a next man up,” Faulkenberry said. “The guys who weren’t on the state team last year will have the mindset, ‘It’s my time now.’
“It’s part of what has made us good the last five to six years.”
Because Faulkenberry graduated so recently and is a young coach, he said it helps him relate to his swimmers.
“I’ve had the opportunity to build a strong relationship with these guys, not only as a coach, but outside of the water,” Faulkenberry said. “I strive to be a good coach, but I want to be a positive figure for the guys outside of that, too.
“The general public think young coaches have more issues. But I’ve had no problem build trust and accountability with them. I think we’re building some great chemistry.”