By David Cohen
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Nothing pleases a coach more than a perfectionist. Except for perfectionists who are winners.
TCU senior Devin Price has had quite the student-athlete's life- from early help from his father who was a swim coach to having surgery to coming back better than ever.
Price is part of TCU's school record-holding relay teams in the 200 and 400 medley relay. He also ranks in TCU's all-time top five in the 100 free and 100 back. This season, Price has TCU's fastest time in the 100 free and is part of the Horned Frogs' top foursomes in the 200 and 400 medley and 200 and 400 free relays.
"He knows how to win," TCU head coach Richard Sybesma said. "He's a winner. He is the one guy in all my years coaching I'd want to have the ball on the last play."
Getting those comments from a man who has spent 34 years at the helm of the program and has coached Olympians is quite an accomplishment.
Price, a Tucson, Ariz. native, credits his father, Devin Sr., for getting him in the water at an early age.
"I started competition swimming when I was four or five and year-round when I was seven," Price said. "[My dad] is a club coach. He works at Ford Aquatics, which is the club team out of the University of Arizona, so he's the one that got me into swimming."
Being in the shadow of the Wildcats could have made Price a tough get for other coaches. Fortunately for Sybesma, Price was ready to explore new territory.
"I grew up in Tucson so I just wanted to get out of town and start something new," Price said. "TCU seemed to be the place to be."
Although the beginning of your college years are usually an exciting time, adversity quickly struck Price during his debut season.
"It was a couple months into my freshman year when I started having problems," he said. "I went to see a doctor and got it x-rayed. I took four or five weeks off in the middle of freshman year and decided to swim through the pain until the conference season. Then after conference my freshman year, I had surgery and I could not do physical activity for four months."
Price still has some vertebrae that are pinned together.
The interrupted freshman campaign did not cost Price too much in the long run, as he bounced back the next year to help the Horned Frogs to a school-record 1:28.26 time as the freestyle leg in the 200 medley relay. In the three seasons since his injury, he has had a part in 22 TCU winning relays. This season, Price has embraced a whole new role.
"The good thing about Devin is he's more of our quarterback," Sybesma said. "He's our sprinter and anchorman. He's finished his races strong and he has a knack on the relay for pulling it out on the last leg. He knows how to win; he's a winner. I'm using a lot of clichés, but it's a great way to describe him."
Sybesma recalls one meet this season that validates his praise of Price.
The Horned Frogs were in the thick of the battle for the team title at the San Antonio Classic in December. The final 400 free relay would decide it and the Frogs were behind early. Price began 1.3 seconds behind the opponent's anchor, but unleashed a 43.87 time to edge his opponent.
"Devin came out of nowhere and won that," he said. "For midterm, his [time of 43.87] was a great split, and it was one of the best splits of his career."
Unfortunately not all of Price's efforts on relays have seen the Frogs come in first.
"In this year's meet with SMU it came down to whoever won the last relay," Sybesma said. "Devin gave everything he got, and I had never seen him upset after a race. We were 3-to-5 yards back when he went into the water. With the lead [SMU] had, the effort was impressive."
Swimming is not the only sport in which fans can see Price leading. He has also been an active leader at volleyball games on the ball crew.
"The men's swim team is hired to the ball crew during volleyball matches," Price said. "It helps them out and gives us a little work, so we will help them out before the match and make sure everything is where it needs to be during the match as well.
It was fun because it gives you more personal experience with [the volleyball team]," Price said. "You're more likely to talk and be friends with them rather than just watch them."
Price, a Criminal Justice major, is unsure what exactly he will do in the field after graduation.
"I'll just apply all over the place," he said. "The only thing that doesn't interest me is going to law school, so I might apply to intern at a police department."
If the one trait that separates a student-athlete from the rest is a never-satisfied attitude, then the Price is right for this senior Horned Frog.