Passion behind Wingate Swimming

Leigh-Anne Clark, Staff Writer

When most people hear the word passion, they think of an uncontrollable emotion such as love or hate.  Kirk Sanocki, in his fifthteenth season as head coach of Wingate University’s swim team, gives passion a definition of his own.

“Don’t mistake my passion for anger” is heard daily by Sanocki’s swimmers at practice.  Many of his athletes think they have an idea on why their coach is so passionate, but just after a 45 minute interview, it became apparent that there is more behind this man’s passion than just powerful emotion.

When asked about his first impression of Kirk, Wingate Swimming’s Graduate Assistant Bailey Noel replied, “During my first talk with Kirk ten years ago, I could tell how passionate of a man he is”.

When Noel first started swimming at Wingate, he was not sure that it was the right fit for him, so he decided to take a break from school.  Several years later, Coach Sanocki gave him a chance to come back to Wingate, finish school and help coach along the way.

Helping and watching Sanocki’s athletes achieve what they did not believe was possible is his favorite part of the job. Sometimes he wants it more than they want it for themselves.

This is not just inside the pool.  Sanocki said he feels like he has a parental responsibly for each of his 45 swimmers.  Every day he leaves work terrified that something will happen to one of them, and he will not be there to help.

His love and passion for his swimmers goes above and beyond a coach’s mindset.  Coach Sanocki cares for his swimmers more than they could ever imagine.

A word that consistently popped up during the interview was “fear”.  For Sanocki, fear is directly related to passion. One of his biggest fears is finding his climax: “If I have found my greatest success then there is nothing that can beat it, there is no room for improvement and no point in continuing”.

Coach Sanocki said, “The day I lose sight of what I can do for this team and the day I feel satisfied with my improvement and success is the day I throw in the towel.”

Kirk is not about winning. If he sees that his athletes have pushed their limits, improved themselves beyond their expectations and did it as a team, winning is just a bonus.

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Edited by: Kyndra Sanden and Meredith Lalor

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