Naperville North turns to a familiar face to take over the girls swim program as former assistant Connor Binning elevates to head coach with Andy McWhirter moving into an assistant role. Find out more about the new Huskie in charge in the this feature presented by Edward Medical Group.
The return on many varsity starters has allowed Naperville North girls swimming and diving to get off the a great start to the season. While experienced talent is a major benefit, the biggest change in the Huskie program starts at the top. Longtime head coach Andy McWhirter stepped down to an assistant role this fall, handing the torch to Huskie assistant coach Connor Binning. After serving under the coaching legend for the past two seasons, the new sheriff in town is ready to take the reigns for the Blue and Orange.
“Andy creates order and organization, and it allows me to do my best job while he does his best job so it’s been nothing short of awesome. He’s been very useful and helping me approach the athlete and, in a perspective, and helping them grow into great swimmer but student athlete and go on to take on the world after that.”
A Familiar Face at the Top
Binning has the good fortune in his inaugural season by coaching many familiar swimmers that he has seen since they were 5 or 6 years old. Whether the swimmer is new to him or not, the practice and training have been created to challenge these Huskie athletes.
“I basically made the program here a D1 swim program shrunk down into high school bite size form and so we’ve changed a lot of things some of the training has changed the times have changed expectations, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Before taking over the Huskie program, Binning swam for Benet Academy Redwings in high school. He then attended college at USC, and hung up the swim cap by joining the Trojans Rugby team. He also joined the Navy during his years in southern California. However after many injuries and lengthy rehabs, he decided to return to a more familiar environment on the pool deck.
“Coaching has always been natural for me but learning how to coach not only high school athletes but high school girl athletes has been the fun but challenging element.”
The North captains themselves know that their previous experience around Binning would help the Huskies swim their way to success.
“We already knew him and we knew that he is already a great coach and he would be a great head coach now so it was great to already have the existing relationship and now just like a step further being the head coach which is awesome. It’s someone that we know really well and someone we know that we can trust so it’s much easier that he’s our head coach and that we know him on a different level. A lot of these girls have known him since he also coaches at cress creek country club so having that relationship for a long time is good if you have a coach you like being with him for a long time is a very great thing.”
Getting the Feet Wet
Despite the returning talent and a coach familiar with the program, everybody knew the adjustment was not going to happen overnight.
“I don’t think he knew what he signed up for it is incredibly hard to be a swim coach for a entire group of teenage girls I mean we are a lot to handle. I’m not gonna lie, we cry a lot we are dramatic we’re just girls. I think the number one thing he had to change was just making sure he’s pushing us to our limits so he definitely has been. Teaching a bunch of high school girls is not the easiest and he just persevere he keep giving us sets that makes us better and then make us work harder and he’s also there as a supporter and motivator so it’s just really great to have that role model figure.”
A Versatile Roster
As time went on Binning not only coached his swimmers to a dominant performances, he knew they had more in their tool kit once they jumped into the pool.
“I call them Swiss army knives I can plug them in to a few different things, that they’ll be successful, and I have some that can even, some I think are sprinters or 50 freestylers and I throw them in the 500 and then they do something that surprises me.”
“As the Calendar hits October crucial competition is around the corner for Binning and the Huskies with sectionals and state just a month away.”
“It’s fun to have multiple things going on at once it’s my job to keep it organized and keep stress at a low level it’s impossible to eliminate it but keep it at a low management level and then the girls just do what they’re supposed to do and everything works out.”
Reporting for Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Patrick Codo
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