From Bobcat to Triton

Marshalltown senior Zoe Beals signs National Letter of Intent to swim at Iowa Central

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Zoe Beals, seated center, signs her National Letter of Intent to swim at Iowa Central Community College starting next fall. Joining Beals in the front row are her parents Jennifer and Paul, and standing are (from left) her brother Carson, MHS swim coaches Mike Loupee and Angie Nelson and Tritons coach Joe Plane.

In the team room at the Roundhouse on Wednesday morning, Marshalltown senior Zoe Beals signed one of the most important documents of her swimming career.

After finishing her days swimming with the Bobcats, the three-time state qualifier will be continuing her career in Fort Dodge as she will swim at Iowa Central Community College for the next two years.

Once the last i had been dotted and t crossed, Beals said it was almost a surreal feeling, signing on to swim at the next level.

“I don’t know why I am so nervous, but it’s pretty exciting,” Beals said. “I didn’t think I was going to swim in college but I met with [Iowa Central coach Joe Plane] and I just wanted to swim, he made me want to keep swimming. I am pretty excited to see how these next two years go swimming with him and see how my times improve and see what happens.”

Plane made the trip down from Fort Dodge to witness the newest member of his team sign on, and he said what sold him on Beals was both her ability in the water and her attitude on dry land.

“I started with times and I saw her times and loved what I saw that, so I contacted her high school coach [Angie Nelson] and I got excited with her response because coach said she is a great young lady,” Plane said. “She has a good personality, she’s a hard worker and a good leader and just a good overall person, and that’s what I am looking for.”

Beals had nothing but praise for Plane and the Tritons as well, saying the way he treats his players is a big factor in her wanting to swim at Iowa Central.

“A lot of it had to do with coach Plane, just his personality and the way he talked about how he made other swimmers improve made me want to swim with him just because I thought, ‘wow, what can he do for me if he is doing this for those students,'” Beals said. “I also really liked the campus and they have the program I want to go into, that’s what’s nice about it also.”

Bobcats swimming head coach Angie Nelson, who was joined by her girls assistant and boys head coach Mike Loupee at the signing, said she is so happy for Beals and her decision to carry on her career in the pool.

“This year was a great culmination of a high school career for her, and I was really excited that she was able to qualify for state and do well to just kind of send it off,” Nelson said. “To have her make this choice to further her education and swimming career, I am just super excited.”

Higher level competition is something that runs in the Beals family, as father Paul was a college track athlete and older sister Mackenzie also competed in track for Minnesota State University at Mankato.

Zoe said she is happy to carry on that tradition of college athletes in her family, and she looks forward to her family supporting her at the different venues she will be swimming in.

“I am excited to have that and travel everywhere and have my family watch me at all different places because we will go swim at some cool places,” she said. “That’s what it is with college sports, you travel to all these different places, so that’s what I’m excited for too, not just staying in one spot and getting to travel and make new friends and having a team again.”

Of course the competition side is a big focus, but Plane said really one of his main goals when bringing girls in is to continue their development into exceptional adults, not just exceptional athletes.

“At the end of the day, they are not going to swim forever, so I want to use our sport to develop really good human beings and have them use our sport to learn goal setting and hard work and overcoming adversity, things they are going to need when they are adults,” Plane said. “She really fits that mold really well.”

Beals said what has prepared her for this next challenge in career is all of the great coaching and support she has gotten from the Marshalltown swim community.

“A lot has to do with the coaches that I’ve had, Angie and Loupee have really helped me improve and continue to swim,” she said. “Just being in swimming programs is what I’ve liked to do and at the high school it’s fun to keep doing it because I have always had amazing coaches. That’s always what I kind of look for.”

As for how she will be used for the Tritons, Beals said she plans to continue swimming in the shorter distances like she did in high school, but she is flexible to compete wherever needed.

“They got me to be a sprinter like I am, but I am sure I will go everywhere once in a while because you always need somebody else for certain things,” she said.

That willingness to do whatever the team needs is yet another reason Plane said he brought her on to build a program around her talents.

“She will fill our needs and that’s something we talked about too, that she’s willing to do what needs to be done,” Plane said. “As we fill our gaps and build the team, I have her and another girl that we are building the team around so she will do what she needs to do and we will do what’s best for her, but I am a big believer in team so we are going to do our best to be very successful as a team and I have no doubt she will help us be successful in both individual events and as a cornerstone for our relays.”

Given how the program intends to use Beals, Nelson said she thinks Iowa Central is a good landing spot for her only swimming state qualifier this year.

“I think she will have a great opportunity, it sounds like coach Plane is building a good, solid team that will fit well with her strengths, and you can’t ask for more than that,” Nelson said.

What Nelson said she is truly proud of Beals for is chasing her dream, because many people decide to not pursue a career after high school and regret it later.

“You really don’t know what you can do until you give it a shot. If you have any kind of inkling that this could be a possibility for you, you need to try it,” Nelson said. “You need to follow it and don’t let it go, because you can’t go back and do it again. You are never going to be in as good of shape as you are right now and you can’t rewind the clock.”

Beals said her plans aren’t set for her future in swimming after the next two years, but she knows it’s something that will always be a part of her life.

“It would be cool to be a coach one day or something like that but I don’t know, I’m sure I will just do like recreational swimming once college is over because I am going to kind of go right into my career after my two years at Iowa Central,” she said. ” I won’t be competitively swimming probably any more after that.”