Around the pool, details are a Staats matter


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-04-2022 10:00 PM

LEBANON — There’s no shortage of swimming experience on the Hanover High coaching staff.

Head coach Sean Uiterwyk competed at Boston College from 1992-96. Diving coach Carl Renshaw both swam and dove at Carlton College in the 1980s, and Linda Bedford, an assistant swimming coach, was on the team at St. Lawrence University.

But none of them have quite the pedigree of Trent Staats, who joined the staff as a volunteer assistant this season. Staats was a two-time All-American in breaststroke for the University of Texas between 1989-93, helping the Longhorns win three consecutive NCAA championships. He also won a bronze medal at the 1991 World University Games in Sheffield, England.

“That was the apex, getting to compete internationally for the U.S.,” Staats said. “It’s what I hold most special.”

Staats went to the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1988 and 1992, finishing 11th in the 200-meter breaststroke in ’88. After college, though, there weren’t many opportunities even for a swimmer of his caliber to continue competing, so he went back to school, completing a master’s degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering at Texas in 1997.

“Swimming had been my life for many, many years,” Staats said. “It’s all-consuming at that level. There was a definite sense of freedom when I finally graduated and moved on with life.”

After finishing his Ph.D., Staats started Posita Technologies, an electronics hardware and software company in Austin. He served as CEO for five years before returning to education once more, this time moving to New England to pursue a business degree at Harvard.

Staats planned on staying in Boston for just two years to finish his MBA, but he ended up moving there permanently, meeting his future wife, a lifelong New Englander, while in business school. He worked for a number of technology companies in the Boston area, becoming president and COO of CleanPlanet Chemical in 2011.

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Before moving to Hanover, Staats had minimal coaching experience — he and his wife coached cross country at their daughters’ middle school and he had helped out with soccer as well. But with his older daughter, Elizabeth, set to be a high school freshman this past fall, the coaching staff reached out to him and asked if he’d be interested in joining, and Staats was in without hesitation.

“Like in any work environment, new perspectives always make the team stronger,” Uiterwyk said. “Trent certainly has life experiences with swimming that are helpful to bring to the pool. His energy is great.”

Staats led the team in breaststroke drills for a week earlier in the season, and he’s been more focused on swimming technique compared to general conditioning. Senior Benton Cesanek, one of Hanover’s best swimmers, said he has the team working harder than they had before.

Cesanek came in first place in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events at Tuesday evening’s meet at the Carter Community Building Association, posting qualifying times for the NHIAA Division II championships in both events.

“Before he came to the team, I always found the workouts to be a little easier,” Cesanek said. “They lacked challenge; they lacked yardage. He came on, and that definitely changed. Practices got more intense, more yardage; they got harder. The team’s stamina and training speed definitely went up with him coming on.”

Hanover was already a powerhouse before Staats’ arrival — the girls team is gunning for its fifth consecutive state title, while the boys were runners-up last year. Elizabeth Staats has made the girls team even stronger, blowing away the field in both the 200 and 500 free Tuesday. In both events, she also finished with a much faster time than the boys’ winner.

“She’s a really hard worker. She’s very consistent in practice,” Uiterwyk said. “That always elevates the rest of the team to do well. Elizabeth, as a freshman, has really come out strong.”

As for the elder Staats, Uiterwyk hopes he will remain on the staff at least through Elizabeth’s high school years and possibly beyond. Staats seemed to think that’s likely — he said one of his favorite things about the Upper Valley is the opportunity for non-professionals to get involved in athletics and recreation. The Staats family had spent their summers and winter vacations in Quechee before moving to the area full time.

“It’s soul-satisfying. A basic human need is to feel invested in others,” Staats said. “The chance to take something about which I’m passionate and share with others who have a budding love for it, it’s inevitably the best part of my day.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at or 603-727-3302.