Dive team perseveres: Jumping into a season without a coach

Can a team succeed without a coach? The dive team is without formal leadership this year, providing challenges for the team.

Athletic director Joe Swarm believes the struggle to fill coaching positions is not unique to the FCPS community, but instead represents a larger national issue.

“As I understand, there is a coaching and teaching shortage throughout FCPS,” said Swarm. “In fact, I think this is on a national scale.”

He says he has heard of the shortage from different schools.

“I am constantly hearing from other schools who are hoping for any candidate to come forward in some of our sports,” Swarm said.

Previously, coaches expressed interest in the occupation due to their love of the game and its atmosphere. Swarm said other factors are influencing the desire to coach.

“I believe the poor treatment, combined with the meager earnings of these individuals have resulted in the devaluing of doing it for the love of the game,” Swarm said.

Swarm said Marshall coaches don’t do the job for the money, but it is still a consideration.

“It does not make it easy when they have not seen a raise in coaching stipends in the 21st century,” he said. “It makes me appreciate and know how extremely fortunate we are to have incredible coaches here at Marshall.”

He said he volunteered to be an athletic administrator representative for a job fair coming up to get more coaches to join Marshall’s school division. He is also looking for support in the larger community.

“I am hopeful that our community and others in FCPS take a good hard look at what is important—and if having athletic programs is on that list, then support them,” Swarm said.

Divers on the team said the lack of a dive coach has caused difficulties at practices and meets. Swarm agreed, saying the problems were magnified because teams from other schools who use the same pool were also missing coaches.

“In the past we have always had a dive coach, and if one of the other two schools did not, they joined us,” Swarm said.

In the absence of other leadership, parent volunteer Shannon Ice, alongside the dive coach from Falls Church High School, stepped up to support the team. Still, freshman diver Rebecca Rothman said hearing opinions from two separate coaching figures can be confusing.

“If we had a full time coach that was with us, they would be able to give us consistent, rather than two [different] types of feedback,” Rothman said.

With many people, including upperclassmen, stepping up, the team persisted through the season and made it to districts. Rothman said divers like senior Tatum Scarborough have been huge role models.

“Not having a coach definitely made [the season] tougher,” Scarborough said.

Still, Scarborough said there wasn’t a huge difference between this season and last year because of the Falls Church High School coach.

Scarborough said she noticed the increased interest in students joining dive is rising. Swarm said he hopes to find a coach for the team for future seasons.

“I always hope that more people want to join the coaching ranks because I believe we have an amazing group of student athletes to work with here in our community,” Swarm said.