Assistant swim coach Colby Dischinger and junior swimmer Patrick Hornung have a tradition. Every time they do a good set at practice or someone on the team swims especially well at a meet, they will do the same celebration that Miguel Tejada and Eric Hosmer do for the Royals.
At the District Championship meet on Dec. 7, Hornung had just swam a his best time in the 100 freestyle at 49.7 seconds. He walked over to Dischinger; starting with their arms spread out, they bring them together and then pop their hands together, then back to the original position like a bomb had exploded. He was happy for Hornung — he had pushed himself just like Dischinger had taught him.
Dischinger always tries to push his swimmers to the next level. He constantly urges the JV swimmers to stay for varsity practice so they’ll get better. He pushes swimmers to keep going when they want to stop. According to Dischinger, he is showing them that they can go beyond where they thought they could go. This was something Greg House, Dischinger’s coach when he swam for Blue Valley North, always did.
Dischinger uses several methods to push his swimmers. He tries to get under their skin. He’ll make up that a certain swimmer said something about how they were better, and how they were going to beat them in a set or a race. Although the swimmer knows he’s kidding, it pushes them to go further.
“I try to set little fires under them,” Dischinger said. “I like to just ruffle their feathers a little, and kind of open up their eyes and make them believe that this goal is attainable and anyone can win in any given race.”
Dischinger remembers how Coach House changed his life, and he coaches for that reason. He wants to push kids to boundaries they don’t think they can reach, and help them reach their goals, exactly what Coach House did to Dischinger. He wants to inspire his swimmers.
“The fact that I have old swimmers coming back to me from years ago saying ‘remember you said this to me and it changed me’ is why I coach,” Dischinger said. “That makes it all worth it.”
Coaching has played an important role in Dischinger’s life. When he first became a gym teacher at Overland Park Elementary, he didn’t like his students’ attitudes. He didn’t like their lack of effort and their bad sportsmanship. He had kids that would purposely forget their tennis shoes so they wouldn’t have to participate in gym class that day. According to Dischinger, that mentality has changed. In his past three years being a gym coach at Overland Park Elementary, he has changed kids’ attitudes. Those same kids that didn’t want to play always play now.
Last quarter alone, he had six students improve 20 laps in the “beep test” — a test where you run laps and have to beat the sound of the beep in order to keep going. He runs alongside these kids, yelling words of motivation like, “You can do it” or “Come on, keep going”.
This “never give up” mentality Dischinger uses is the same that coach House would use. It’s also the same mentality he uses with his swimmers at East.
Dischinger started swimming his freshman year of high school at Blue Valley North (BVN). He didn’t start swimming because he liked it or because he thought he’d be good, but rather to get in shape for basketball season. He had heard about the swim coach at Blue Valley North at the time — how he changed kids’ lives — always reminding them to stay calm and push through the difficult times. After realizing he was a talented swimmer, Dischinger decided not to play basketball and to swim instead. He found success in swimming quickly, and decided to pursue it for the rest of high school.
When Dischinger and his fellow BVN swimmers would get into the pool at a meet, they would always have a winning mindset. They would tell themselves they were going to win, and try to intimidate opponents with this confidence. This confident mind set he had was something that Coach House taught him, and is something that helped him succeed.
Not only did BVN win state all four years he was there, but Dischinger was also voted Kansas City Star swimmer of the year his senior year.
Dischinger was the boys’ and girls’ assistant swim coach for four years at BVN. One day during his last year coaching at BVN, he emailed Wright. Dischinger knew him from swimming against him in high school. Not when Wright was in high school, but when he coached for East and Dischinger swam for BVN. He was interested in coaching at East, and got the job as Assistant coach. His first two years he did it completely for free, as a volunteer. This is Dischinger’s first year getting paid as a coach for East.
“He came in my freshman year and everyone immediately respected him,” Hornung said. “He had an amazing career swimming for Blue Valley North so we respected that right away”.
Dischinger’s main goal as a coach is to win State. He says by pushing and motivating his swimmers, it could happen.
“Who was in the NCAA Final Four in 2002?,” Dischinger asks his swimmers.
“Exactly,” Dischinger says. “Nobody remembers the losers. You’ve got to write your own legacy this year.”