GREAT FALLS — Ed McNamee has spent the past 26 years coaching swimming for both Great Falls’ public schools. In that time he has built quite the resume including 28 state trophies and four nominations for the NHSACA national swimming coach of the year honor, which has now gotten him recognized for induction to the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“In terms of being in the hall of fame, that was never something I set out to do,” said McNamee. “It’s an amazing accomplishment and it’s certainly an honor.”
McNamee did not start his career as a swim coach. He began as a football coach when he needed one more credit at the University of Montana and progressed as he went on to become linebackers coach at Montana Western. Coaching swimming came into play when he returned to Great Falls to teach.
He began as an assistant coach who was just happy to learn and make some extra money on the side. In 2002, the athletic director presented McNamee with the head coach position.
In his first year as head coach, his Bison girls finished third place and set the bar for the next few years as expectations continued to rise. Around 2007, his Rustlers girls team had began what would turn into a run of five straight state titles.
During the 2010 season, it was both the CMR girls and boys who had claimed state championships. As much as the wins matter, it was always more about the relationships and the experiences that he was building with his athletes.
“The birth announcements, the wedding announcements, those types of things that we get from kids regardless of how they finished their careers, is that they can look back and have a great experience,” he said.
There may be no timetable on when he plans to hang up his whistle, but when he does make that decision he will have nothing more to prove and wants his legacy to be remembered through a few different ways.
McNamee said: “The biggest thing that I want to take away from it, or that I want people to take away from it, is that I was genuine and I was a teacher. That they felt that every kid that ever came through felt valued. No matter how fast they were, no matter how much they did, they felt that they had some value and they added to what we do here. That’s my underlying goal. If they say that about me when everything is done, then it’ll be a success.”