EHS Coach Kelli Broussard shares her passion for swimming with her student athletes

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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By Ron Marvel
Star Correspondent
For certain athletes the desire to compete at a high level doesn’t click off when they hit a certain age. Elizabethton Cyclones Head Swimming Coach Kelli Broussard recently flashed that desire at the US Masters Swimming Long Course National Championships in Sarasota, Florida, taking the crown of National Champion in the 200 meter freestyle. She also took silver in the 200 meter Individual Medley, bronze in the 50 meter butterfly and fourth in the 100 meter fly and 100 meter backstroke, in her 50-54 age group. After this competition, Broussard is ranked in the top 10 nationally in her age group in several events.
Broussard’s time swimming has been a huge part of her life. “My mom and dad put a pool in our backyard when I was five in Minnesota; I started competing when I was seven and then swam for my High School in Shakopee, Minnesota,” Broussard shared. Broussard had no intention of swimming in college at what would be later known as Hawaii Pacific University, but her desire to stay in shape earned her a scholarship and led to a girls’ swim team being created, which initially was made up of just herself. “I realized that training in college was a whole different animal than training for club teams or high school, but I treated it like a job,” Broussard added. She used the one year of college eligibility she had left at Springfield College in Massachusetts to swim in graduate school. Shortly after graduate school she met and married a young Marine by the name of Steven and started competing in Triathlons near the local Marine Corps bases where she would find herself.
Upon her husband’s retirement from the Marines, the Broussards fell in love with the Watauga Lake area and relocated to the Tri-Cities area. Her son Kody started swimming with the new team at TA Dugger in 2019.  After that first year, Kelli felt as though she could help the swim team. “I saw where I could step up and be an asset to the program. I felt like it was my duty to help the program become successful,” Broussard claimed. So, in 2020, she accepted a position as an assistant coach for the swim team after a conversation with EHS Athletic Director Forrest Holt. Some of the down time during Covid-19 allowed her to get the EHS Swim team’s name out better in the community by giving them an online presence. Then in 2021, she took over as the Head Coach at both EHS and TA Dugger. During her time with the team, the EHS program has grown from just seven students to 20, and she is optimistic she may be in the mid to upper 20’s this year. During her tenure, the team has also had students compete at the State Meet each year.
Broussard is quick to point out that one of the greater benefits of her continued participation in the sport is that it makes her a better coach. “ I strongly believe it makes me a better coach because it allows me to get in the water and tell our athletes what it feels like, what muscles to engage to pull as much water as you can,” Broussard shared. “It is important to practice what I preach.  While I’m swimming, I will take mental notes on what I can share with them,” Broussard added. In addition, Broussard exclaimed that her swimming helps her mentally. “I can be in a foul mood and not be in a good head space, get in the water, come out and will be in a good place,“ Broussard stated. The benefits that she has gotten from her time in the pool and competing against herself are all the things she wants to pass on to her student-athletes. Kelli will be competing again on August 26th in Avon, Ohio to see if she improves her time and standings at the national level.

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