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D’Evelyn’s Girls Swim Coach Dives Into Season

D’Evelyn’s Girls Swim Coach Dives Into his First Season
Posted on 12/05/2018
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Five years ago, Toby Mullarkey was securing first-place finishes for D’Evelyn High School’s swim and dive team. Now, he’s leading the school’s current students try to do the same.

Mullarkey assumed his new role of head coach for the girls swim team in its first meet of the season on Saturday. But it isn’t a new environment for him: He served as the head coach for the boys team and assisted under Mark Collings, who himself was an assistant coach when Mullarkey was a student.

Collings’ then-boss Josh Griffin is now Mullarkey’s after he was named D’Evelyn’s interim principal for the 2018-19 school year. Mullarkey credits both in his development as a coach.

“I have adopted many of their philosophies and practices into my own,” Mullarkey said. “Their philosophy and way of handling themselves was always calm, cool and collected. They both showed immense care for their swimmers. Josh was the more serious coach while Mark was the more lighthearted one, so I have been trying to strike a healthy balance between the two.”

Mullarkey singled out their instruction about the nuances of running a large team full of swimmers who are “only a handful of years” younger than he is. In Collings, Mullarkey was the beneficiary of three to four decades of experience coaching high school swimmers. According to the new head coach, his predecessor served at numerous schools before landing at D’Evelyn.

In what Mullarkey called a “happy coincidence,” he reached out to Collings, looking to get into coaching just as the latter was starting to see retirement on the horizon. Mullarkey served as a volunteer coach for one year, then the duo worked out a deal: Mullarkey would assist Collings on the girls team with the two swapping roles for the boys so the younger would be ready to take the reins alone when the time came.

Under his guidance, the Jaguar boys finished fifth in the Jeffco 5A Championships and 14th in the 4A state championships. The girls finished fourth in their league championships and seventh in the state.

At the Carmody Recreation Center on Saturday, he led the girls through their first paces, with 34 swimmers competing in 12 events. They competed against Bear Creek High School and Lakewood High School. Mullarkey was happy with the result.

“It was about as smooth of a meet as I have coached,” Mullarkey said. “With all the great swims and positives I saw from my girls, I am ready to see what they can do this season.”

The girls team came into the week with two weeks of practice — one on both sides of Thanksgiving break. Mullarkey said he wasn’t concerned with the times because they haven’t had time to work into shape yet. But even in that limited time, the athletes are starting to recognize their new head coach’s influences.

Junior Sophia Hoffman is more familiar than most with Collings’ style. She has been coached by him for more than a decade and recognizes the similarities he has with Mullarkey.

“I think he’ll be a lot like [Collings],” Hoffman said. “He’s filling in for Mark really well and just taking in a lot of what he did last year and keeping the team super strong and competitive and stuff.”

For Mullarkey, his biggest coaching philosophy comes from the lighthearted Collings.

“A big part of it has just been getting to know the girls. I really stress that as the most important tenet of being a coach,” he said. “You have that relationship for the swimmers. That way, when you get farther in the season, you talk to them you get them better feedback and interact with them in a more positive light if you take your time getting to know them.” 

written by Rich Allen
for the Courier