Uncommon focus makes coach optimistic for future of Branksome Hall swimmer, track star
The future looks bright for Branksome Hall’s swim team, as well as its track and field troupe.
Although she’s competing at the junior level right now, Grade 10 student Kate MacMillan is the reason why there’s optimism on the horizon.
Coach Lauren Stamper says she sees something extra in MacMillan, something that’s not common in most 15-year-olds: focus.
“It’s sort of a special trait to see in a kid like Kate, that’s focused and so committed to her sport,” Stamper said, during a break at a CISAA meet in Oshawa. “When they’re younger they need a lot of direction, but Kate, you tell her what to do and she does it 150 percent.”
Then there’s MacMillan’s sense of team spirit that Stamper has picked up on.
“She’s a bit of a quiet girl, but she’s very caring and supportive of her teammates,” she said. “[She’s] always cheering on everyone else, always watching everyone else’s races, not running off with her friends, but supporting her teammates both in swimming and in track.”
There was some trepidation in accepting the role of mentor from MacMillan when the Town Crier caught up with her.
“I guess I’m a role model for the Grade 9s — encouraging them to continue on to the next grade,” she said.
Stamper also noted MacMillan is not afraid to try something new. In the pool, the Highlander participates in freestyle and individual medley races, which require a variety of different strokes.
In track she’s run the 200- and 400-metre, and then switches to longer distances, such as the 1500-metre. MacMillan has also
taken up a field event: long jumping.
“I think it’s good to try,” she said of taking part in varying competitions. “You don’t know if you like it if you don’t try.”
The teamwork and focus led MacMillan to OFSAA this year for swimming, where her school placed ninth in the under-14 200-metre medley relay, with a time of 2:33.45 in the B final. With her at the February meet in Brantford were teammates Jenny Jiang, Maria Brito and Astrid Walker-Stewart.
MacMillan’s pursuit of OFSAA for track fell short at a CISAA meet on May 13, where she failed to qualify for Citys in 200-, 400-, 1500-metre and long jump.
Next fall she will compete at the senior level in both cross country and swimming for the Highlanders.
Stamper expects the transition to be seamless.
“She’s willing to take the Grade 9s under her belt, and she’s also comfortable with hanging out with the Grade 12s,” she said of her young standout performer.