Lansing High School swimming and diving head coach Diane Hicks-Hughes recently began her term as the president of the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA), a professional organization for high school aquatic coaches across all 50 states. Hicks-Hughes is the first woman to serve as president of NISCA in the organization’s 85-year history.
Hicks-Hughes has been coaching aquatics at the Lansing Central School District for nearly 40 years. In addition to her new role as president of NISCA, Hicks-Hughes is also a state coordinator for girls swimming and diving.
Hicks-Hughes sat down with the Lansing Ledger to discuss her new position, what it means for her to be the first female president of NISCA and the ideas she plans on implementing during her term as president.
Lansing Ledger: What was your reaction when you found out that you would be the new president of NISCA?
Diane Hicks-Hughes: Well, I had been the president-elect for the past two years, and I knew that I would then become president. So it was a normal process.
LL: What is it about this organization that made you want to work for it in general as well as work for it as a high ranking official?
DHH: NISCA is representative of all schools in the country, so we represent thousands. We try to bring recognition to our athletes—swimmers, divers, water polo, academic [achievements], times, diving standards…I’ve been involved in swimming and diving for 40 years, so might as well keep the interest going.
LL: What will be your responsibilities and duties as president of NISCA?
DHH: As president, I oversee all the committees and I’m responsible to make sure that we stay in the black and … try to find sponsors for our programs and things like that. We have many different committees. … I’m overseeing those individuals as well as the past president and my new incoming president that would be in two years. I’m getting Tim [Sirois] on board, and we’re trying to work together and keep everybody up to date.
LL: What does it mean to you to be the first female president of the organization in its 85-year history?
DHH: I’ve been doing challenges with this because I want the girls, especially in our school and our state, to know that we can do these things. It’s okay to make challenges. Basically, I’m trying to get the girls to realize it’s okay for females to become role models. I’m hoping that I’m setting an appropriate example by showing the girls first I can be state coordinator for girls swimming and diving, and then I was on the [National Federation of State High School Association], now I’m with NISCA. It’s okay to be a leader. You don’t have to take the backseat.
LL: Is that a challenge you have noticed among young female athletes and students?
DHH: When I first came, the girls did not really think about leadership that often. I’m trying to make sure that they understand that they can be a leader in whatever form that they can take.
LL: As the new president, do you have any new ideas that you will bring to the table?
DHH: Well, right now we’re trying to find a new sponsor. Speedo decided to take a step away, and so right now one of our things is trying to find a new sponsor to help fund our programs. I’ve been working with the many different swimming organizations, trying to find a new sponsor.
LL: Once you find that sponsor, what kind of ideas do you plan on pursuing?
DHH: We would like to get NISCA banners and NISCA more representative in every high school. We have a lot of kids that probably aren’t aware of some of the programs that we do, and so we hope to bring that to the forefront and make sure that the kids are recognized, and they need to be recognized.