The Hart swim program has dominated the competition for nearly 30 years. During that time swimmers have come and gone; however, one constant remains, Coach Steve Neale.
As with all great coaches, of any sport, Neale is able to adapt to anything. Having coached since 1984, Steve Neale, has endured major overhauls with his program. Funding is one major difference that Steve Neale and the Hart swim program have overcome.
“The school district has cut back, it is way different funding then it used to be in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.” “It is mom and dad power is what primarily runs (the program), Coach Steve Neale said.
However, this has not stopped the Hart High School Indians from winning 65 League Championships while thoroughly dominating anyone and everyone that gets in the same pool.
But where does this winning attitude and tradition come from?
Back in his heyday Steve Neale swam for Cal State Northridge. There he learned what it took to become a winner because he competed and swam at the national level.
He has brought that winning attitude to Hart High School, and the program has truly benefited from his experiences.
Hart swimming’s greatest example of a Steve Neale product is, Anthony Ervin, who won gold medal at 2000 Olympics in the 50m freestyle becoming the first swimmer of African American descent to make the USA Olympic Swimming Team.
However, both ends of the spectrum of swimmers matter to Steve Neale.
“Both successes, the very top and somebody who is overcoming their basic fear is important to me.”
His winning past and current domination with Hart high school is trumped by, Steve Neale the person.
Talking to students and coaches they all said the same thing, literally verbatim about how great a person Steve Neale is.
“He is passionate he cares about every student every swimmer, he really is incredible,” said assistant coach Christine Worby.
Assistant Coach Becky Cianessi said, “We had a 40th year reunion this summer and we had a lot of people that came back from 40 years ago, still remember him coaching them.” “Everyone is just so inspired by him so inspired by the program and what it means, how successful its been and what a tradition it is to be apart of it.”
To have people come back from 40 years ago to see you tells you all you need to know about the man. There is more to him than just getting the best results from his swimmers in order to win league championships. He has a true and genuine compassion for people and he is able to touch their lives. That is what truly makes Steve Neale special.
Steve Neale is not quite sure how much longer he will coach, but he does has some idea, “as long as I can blow my whistle.”
All jokes aside, when Neale decides to hang up his whistle he is going to leave large wet shoes to fill.