MIDLOTHIAN — Eleven months ago, 12-year old Kathleen Potter won the 100-meter freestyle swim and earned a place on 2017 National Swim Team at the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) Summer Games in McAllen, Texas.
Though her time of 1:08:83 set a new state record, Potter's future as a high school swimmer was little but a distant memory.
“I don’t want to go to the Olympics or anything, but I’d love to swim all the way through high school and college,” Potter said in August at her private pool at her and her family’s home in Midlothian. “It would be nice to have a high school team to compete with but where the pool doesn't make me a better swimmer. I decide that.”
No high school in Ellis County houses a natorium, but unlike like 5A schools like Red Oak and Waxahachie and 6A programs like Cedar Hill and DeSoto, she was one of many aquatic athletes in Midlothian that didn't have a high school program to call home.
The Midlothian ISD School board approved the creation of a high school swim program at both 5A Midlothian and 4A Midlothian Heritage High Schools, as well as soccer and wrestling programs at Frank Seale and Walnut Grove Middle Schools on Monday night.
"There's been an interest to bring it into the district since I've been here — about eight years," MISD Athletic Director Steve Keasler, about the inclusion of swimming into the Midlothian Athletics Department. "It's always been a priority to provide the program for both schools because I don't ever think there we should provide for one and not the other. It will be another activity in the district that will provide a sense of accountability and discipline. Anytime we can teach our kids and provide them that, it strengthens our philosophies and provides invaluable life lessons for our students."
One benefit to the ISD, Keasler said, was providing an outlet for the multitude of talented swimmers the city holds within its borders. The other is joining the movement toward aquatics and through that effort, earning Lone Star Cup recognition from the UIL.
There were more than 100 teams that competed in UIL regulated 6A, 5A and 4A competition. Four of those teams were within 20 miles of the Ellis County border. Until 48 hours ago, only two were inside that dividing line.
Nearly all of them were in the Lone Star Cup's running.
The Lone Star Cup, which given by the UIL and based on a school district’s combined academic and athletic achievements, compiles points via a year-long accumulation of points based on team success at the district and state level. According to the UIL website, the winning schools in each classification will receive the UIL Lone Star Cup trophy and a $1,000 scholarship.
Midlothian Heritage is tied with Bushland, Carthage, Gilmer and Levelland High Schools for ninth place in the standings.
Keasler said the programs are expected to be installed by the beginning of the 2017 fall semester but still needs UIL approval of their specific district. Much like the two school's wrestling teams, he noted the expectation for Texas high school sports' governing body to place the swimmers in the same district.
"We'll have to appeal for that and hopefully the UIL will place us in a district for this upcoming year," he said. "Middle school wrestling will start the same way and coincide with the high school program and soccer start after track and go until the end of the school year. [The swim teams] will be limited to varsity teams starting out and since we don't have our own facility, we'll end up renting one. Swimming is one of the only sports here in Midlothian that we don't have that can generate Lone Star Cup points. We want to be competitive in all of our sports and a goal of ours is to win the Lone Star Cup."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.