For every practice, Michigan State junior Molly Parks made a 40-minute drive to Owosso High School for the girls and boys swimming and diving seasons to coach the divers for each team.
With two Trojan divers making honorable mention on the MISCA All-Zone 7 team, she was named the LSJ diving coach of the year for the boys season.
“It’s a great honor. There’s so many great diving coaches and it’s really nice to work with all of them and it was nice to get appreciation from them,” Parks said. “It’s only my second year coaching at a varsity level, so it’s kind of cool to be able to experience that.”
Having attended Hartland High School, where she first got into dive instruction, family roots took Parks back to Owosso. The swimming team was without a diving coach and Parks reached out inquiring about helping out.
“My whole family is from Owosso,” Parks said. “My parents graduated from Owosso High School. My cousin was on the team the past few years. … I just emailed a couple people and it ended up working out. I love what I do. It’s not really a problem for me to make a drive like that. I just love being able to coach the kids.”
- Boys swimming and diving Dream Team, all-area
- Swimming coach of year: Haslett’s Bob Oliver
- Swimmer of the year: Joey Lashbrook
- Diver of the year: Ionia’s Riese Penn
Parks has had to take some kids with gymnastics backgrounds and bring them to the pool.
“Each kid is different and have different backgrounds, so you have to teach them in different ways,” Parks said. “I’ve learned a ton of different things from different clubs and different coaches so I feel like I’ve gotten to be well rounded. Sometimes kids are ready to move on to different dives in one day and other kids you’ve got to work with them on an approach for a couple weeks.”
Parks had five divers in the program this season. Senior Thomas Sutphen had never taken a competitive dive.
“He came over and started diving this year and he was doing dives that kids don’t learn in three years of competing,” Parks said of Sutphen. “He was doing moves like triple twisters, which I had not seen in competition before, and he really had determination and scored a lot of points for the team. He was only there for one year but he looked like he had been there for years.”
Sophomore Mitchell Fisher also made MISCA All-Zone 7 honorable mention along with Sutphen and rebounded after a scary injury.
“He hit his head on the board at the Williamston Invitational and was out for over a month and a half,” Parks said. “For a 15-year-old kid to hit his head on a diving board and to be able to qualify for regionals and finish top 16 and score points was really phenomenal.”