Many know the head coach for Messiah’s swim team, Katie McComb, to be a strong mentor and boss for student athletes and workers. What some people may not realize is how McComb strives to keep her faith centered in everything she does.
McComb has been the head swim coach for Messiah since 2017, along with overseeing the lifeguards and swim instructors for Messiah’s pool. She never expected to be in the position she has now but has loved this God given opportunity to work with college athletes.
When McComb applied for the position, she had little coaching experience under her belt. She had recently quit her job in digital marketing and was working as an assistant coach for Hershey Aquatics Club.
Even though she was facing a lot of uncertainty, McComb applied for the head swim coach position with the encouragement of family and friends.
“During the interview, I asked why they were looking at me for this job,” McComb said. “I thought there was nothing on my resume that qualified me for this. They just started laughing and told me that almost no one who starts a position is 100% ready, you have to grow into it and this is a place where you learn.”
And grow she did. McComb has become a favorite coach to many Messiah athletes, student workers and colleagues.
Mackenzie Williams, student lifeguard and swim instructor, knew right away during the interview that McComb was someone she wanted to work for.
“The first question she asked me was not about my [lifeguarding] experience but more so, how are you doing and how is school going,” Williams said. “She was also asking me about my faith and why I chose to come to Messiah. It was a caring aspect first and I was not expecting that.”
Students and colleagues know McComb as someone who is always asking questions to get to know others on a personal level.
Aaron Faro, the director of AROMA sports ministry, has personally experienced McComb’s caring and questioning nature as a fellow coach and employee.
“One of my favorite things about Coach Katie is how thoughtful she is about everything,” Faro said. “She’s one of the best question askers I’ve ever been around. I’ve been encouraged and challenged by her other-centeredness and her question asking.”
McComb has been an active participant in AROMA during her time at Messiah. She often attends AROMA chapels, works with outreach sports camps and leads international mission trips.
“She really believes in connecting her faith to her coaching and wanting her athletes to make that connection as well,” Faro said. “She’s personally involved with AROMA, as well as been a great advocate for getting athletes involved.”
Bringing in the Christ-centered attitude AROMA encourages to her coaching is a big part of how McComb leads her practices. She strives to make practice not just about enhancing her athletes swimming abilities but also about enhancing their relationship with Jesus.
“We do prayer and pull ups every day after practice,” McComb said. “We do max out pull ups and then the devotion team shares something afterwards. It’s an opportunity to learn what’s going on in someone else’s spiritual walk and be encouraged.”
Encouraging is often a word her athletes and employees would use to describe her. Williams has seen firsthand how the encouraging atmosphere McComb fosters positively influences her life.
“She encourages people and doesn’t even notice she’s doing it all the time,” Williams said. “She pushes me to be like the Christian that’s within her. She’s not afraid to bring up Christ and give you advice on how to live a Christian life.”
McComb uses her gifts as a coach, boss and mentor to remind others of God’s presence in their lives.
“Katie is constantly pointing them back to their identity in Christ and His desire to love and meet their needs first and foremost,” Faro said.
Swimming for God’s glory applies to practice and competition for the Messiah swim team.
“I try to remind them that whenever we’re competing against opponents, yes, we want to race hard and win, but ultimately, we want to share God’s love with those people and use it as a platform to love your neighbor and God,” Mccomb said. “It helps us remember that He is the one who needs to be glorified through it, not yourself.”
McComb has maintained her focus on Christ even during the challenges and chaos of COVID-19.
“During training this semester, she told us she doesn’t know all the answers but she’s getting there. She was very open and honest with us,” Williams said. “She’s keeping positive and reminding us that we should be thankful we’re even here.”
Her encouraging attitude demonstrates to students how their hope can grow if they focus on God’s love.
“All students need to know that God’s love for them doesn’t change,” McComb said. “Even though your semester is crazy and you don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19 and your careers, God is working in that.”
It is inspiring to see how the love and positivity of one person leading a Christ-centered life can influence those around her. The encouragement she’s passed onto her athletes and coworkers have left a lasting impact on many.
“I would say she’s been my favorite boss because she’s more personal and cares about the connections she has with her workers,” Williams said. “She makes me feel very valued and like I belong.”
Faro also feels a strong connection with McComb as they work as a team to share the gospel.
“She’s one of those coaches I love working with and I’m glad she is here,” he said. “For me to be able to support her as a coach and the work of AROMA is a great partnership so I’m really thankful for her.”
When struggling, McComb’s turns to Psalm 51:10-12. Those verses help her find a renewed spirit and joy, which is something she wants to share with those around her.
“Ask God for hunger and thirst for Him because He’s so faithful to give that when we ask,” McComb said. “Also, ask for the community around you to help point you towards Him.”
McComb has blessed many through her work at Messiah. Her love for Christ has made her a good friend, great mentor and encouraging colleague to those in the surrounding community.