Longtime Purdue coach and NA native visits pool
Though he’s been the head coach of the men’s swimming and diving team at Purdue University since 1985, Danny Ross’ love for the water came from his time in North Augusta. More specifically, at the Hammond Hills Suburban Club’s swimming pool, where his mother, Joyce, was a founding member in 1961.
Ross attended Hammond Hill Elementary, North Augusta Junior High and North Augusta High School. He graduated in Delaware following a family move, but still has fond memories of the area. On Thursday, he was in town to attend his niece’s graduation from USC Aiken and recounted a time from when he was in sixth-grade and asked for a job at the pool.
“I was here every day, so they said, I’ll pay you a buck an hour if you clean the algae off the slides,’ and I basically started when I was 12 years old,” he said. “In 76, when I was a junior in high school and my last year before we moved to Delaware, I was actually the manager of the pool. As a manager you basically schedule the guards, you had to know how to do the chlorine and all the stuff and that was basically it. I started doing it then and I’ve continued doing it the rest of my life.”
Joyce Ross could also remember with great detail one of the first moments that her son was around the pool.
“He was almost two-years old when this pool was opened,” she said. “I came down with Danny and sat with my feet in the water. It was his first introduction to the Hammond Hills pool. He was a lot smaller than he is today. We go back to that first opening day and we’ve been involved with it ever since.”
The next summer Ross would start his coaching career in Delaware. He also chose to attend Purdue, which is where his father went to college.
Upon seeing the work done at the pool, Ross noted that while things have changed and improved, they are also very familiar.
“I came back years ago and it was the same old pool,” he said. “Everyone was telling me they were renovating it and now it just looks awesome. When I was a kid it seemed to me to be this big; that’s what I recollected because I was so young. To have as big of a team as they have and as small of a pool as they had, and to do the things they did, was amazing. So now for them to have the six lanes the team should flourish. People will be able to get in and out a lot quicker and having more people swimming is always a good thing.”
Driving through North Augusta also brought back a lot of memories for Ross, as he drove from his mother’s home in Aiken to the pool.
“Driving in the exit looked the same, Georgia Avenue is totally different, as is Martintown Road, but I told my mom, You know, I can find my way around,’” he said. “The most shocking thing to me was driving down Hammmond Drive where we lived, and how mature the trees are. I thought the trees were big when I was a kid, but now it’s a very, very, very mature area.”
Scott Rodgers is a reporter at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Alvernia University and currently attends Drexel University.