After leading North Mecklenburg's boys' swimming to a second-place finish in the 4A state meet, Tim Queen is leaving the Vikings to become Hough High's first swimming coach next year.
Queen, who also led the North Meck girls to a ninth-place finish at states, will also serve as the chairman of the physical education department at the new school in Cornelius.
"It's very exciting and I'm looking forward to it," said Queen. "I've never opened a school before - I've always worked at schools that were older than me, so that'll be new and interesting."
By becoming the Huskies' first swimming coach, Queen takes over his third high school program. At both of his previous jobs he has won state championships, one boys' and four girls' titles at Shelby High School and the boys' 4A championship last season with the Vikings.
Queen said he was happy with how things wrapped up this year - his last - at North Mecklenburg.
"It was a very successful season," he added. "I was real pleased with both groups."
This season, the North Mecklenburg swimming team continued its streak of conference championships, as both the boys and girls won their 24th consecutive conference crowns. Queen said winning those titles was a big relief for him and his team.
"Each year the pressure grows - it mounts - and to continue that streak was just awesome," said Queen.
The 47-year-old started coaching 21 years ago. But he got his start coaching another sport - baseball. He soon decided to coach the sport he felt more comfortable with.
"Being around the water and swimming from age 6 through 20-something-years-old, it just seemed like a more natural fit for me to go back to the pool," said Queen.
He started coaching at the rec-league level before getting an opportunity to coach at Shelby.
Queen, the Lake Norman News coach of the year, said that throughout his coaching experience his goal has been to push his players to success.
"I like to help the kids get intrinsically motivated because it's a team sport, yet it's comprised of individual skills at each event," he said. "There's a lot of individual effort that takes place to make us successful."
Queen said that some of the moments that stood out to him from the past season included watching some of his swimmers - Jake Matysek, Linsay Cooper and his girls' 200-medley and 400-free relay teams - get All-American consideration times as well as watching senior J.T. Stilley swim automatic All-American times in the 200- and- 500 freestyles.
"All that stuff is incredible," Queen said. "It's an honor to be in the same pool deck as those guys."
But even after having a successful season, Queen wishes he had emphasized a couple of points to his team - including improving foot-turns in freestyles and relay starts.
"Every year I think I can do a better job the next season," he said. "Hopefully I can do that."
But he'll have to do that at a different school, leaving all the tradition at North Mecklenburg behind.
North Mecklenburg's future conference dominance will be in doubt not only because of their coach's departure but also because of redistricting.
"I'm not real sure which kids will remain at North and which kids will be at the new school," he said. "It'll be a bit of a challenge."
Hough, which will not have a senior class next year, will also draw current freshmen and sophomores from Hopewell's district.
Queen said he still has high hopes for the Vikings and his Huskies next season.
"North Meck's going to be very strong - kids are going to be strong here," he said. "I'm sure they'll also be good at Hough, and they'll probably develop into a great rivalry."
Other Hough coaching announcements
Hough's principal Terri Cockerham released the names of some of the Huskies' coaches when the school opens in August.
Sandi Skidmore will join Tim Queen in leaving North Mecklenburg to become Hough's first volleyball coach, while Hopewell assistant basketball coach Justin Batts, who played and coached under Hopewell's Eric Davis, will be the boys' basketball coach.
Other coaches announced are Bobby Collins (defensive coordinator at Providence Day) as football coach, David Smith (from Vance) as soccer coach, Forest "Tripp" Rogers (assistant at Belmont Abbey College and former state champ at East Gaston) as wrestling coach, Sonja Tate (former Ardrey Kell girls' basketball coach) as girls' basketball coach and Jimmy Cochran (from Parkwood High in Monroe) as baseball coach.
The rest of the coaches will be announced later in the semester.