Coach Graf: ‘We have awesome leadership’ | SummitDaily.com
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Coach Graf: ‘We have awesome leadership’

RICHARD CHITTICK
Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkSophomore Brandi Girtman practices her breast stroke Tuesday evening. The Tigers head into the 2004-2005 season with a new coach, Laura Graf, but theyre looking to build on the foundation built by Grafs predecessor, Graig Fisher.
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FARMER’S KORNER – Summit High School girls swimming coach Laura Graf sees a real mixed bag when she looks at the 2004-2005 team. Though this is Graf’s first year at the helm of the program, she’s no stranger to it. For the last two seasons, she has worked as an assistant to Graig Fisher, who was top dog for five years before resigning and departing for Florida earlier this year. “We’re building on a lot of the foundation that Graig provided over the last five years,” Graf said. On the one hand, she has five experienced seniors, as well as a returning state qualifier in sophomore Kylie Nilson.”We have awesome leadership,” she said. “Our senior leadership has been here and they’re really leading the way.”

On the other hand, she has a handful of freshmen who spent the first week of practice learning the basic mechanics of certain strokes and have never competed in a meet before. “So far it’s been a little trial and error,” Graf said after a mock meet at the high school on Wednesday morning. “Some of our swimmers are learning what to do at a meet and what not to do. But they’re looking very promising.” Across the board, she sees athletic talent and a team that wants to succeed. And with the help of her seniors, she expects the best team cohesiveness she’s seen since she joined the program.”An honest effort is the big thing we’re looking for,” she said. “We’re really looking for the girls to give it their all.” And they plan to.”We want to get some people to state,” said senior co-captain Jessica Lewark. “It’s going to take hard work and dedication, and dedication is one of the big things I’ve learned over the last three years.”Next week, Graf will be working with the team to help the girls establish their own goals for the season. The swim and dive season begins on Dec. 3 when the Tigers host Golden in a meet at Farmer’s Korner.

She believes that if the team works together to inspire each other, a handful of Tigers have the possibility of going to state, including the 400- and 200-yard free relays. DivingLike Graf, diving coach Shannon Hoffman is in her first year in control of the program, and like Graf, Hoffman brings experience with her.Hoffman is new to the program, but she comes into it with nine years of experience as a high school and college club diver. She was also a coach for the Colorado Athletic Club in Denver before moving to Summit County in June.”The swim and dive team, it’s all one team,” she said. “But the divers have a certain uniqueness to them.”

Still, even in the few days she’s worked with the dive team, she’s seen that the two squads work together well. “They’re all pretty good at cheering at each other, so it’s all connected,” she said.Hoffman’s seven-person squad is smaller than last year’s, but she isn’t intimidated at all.”They have the ability to learn more dives,” she said. “They have talent, and that’s important.”She has experience in her seniors, captain Meg Schuman and Rachel Bergstrom, as well as up-and-coming promise in her juniors, Shauna Neeley and Allison Helmer.Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at rchittick@summitdaily.com.


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