Stephen Williams receives Coach of the Year honors

Pagosa Porpoises Coach Stephen Williams has been named CSI’s Seasonal Coach of the Year, thanks in large part to the outpouring of letters to nominate him written by his biggest fans, his swimmers. Williams was in competition with coaches throughout the state of Colorado for this award.

A CSI banquet was held in Denver on Oct. 4, where Williams traveled to receive his award. Some past and present Porpoise swimmers joined their coach to celebrate. Current team members in attendance were Devan and Erin Monkiewicz and Austin Miller. Aaron Miller and Matt Nobles, now both attending Colorado School of Mines, traveled from Golden to join their ex-coach. Assistant Coach Marky Egan also attended the event.

Aaron Miller introduced Stephen for his award. He stated that Williams taught him that swimming is more than being the fastest guy in the water. It’s also about the development of inner commitment, learning how to set goals, and seeing how hard you can push yourself, mentally and physically. Such lessons in life carry on long after the swimmers leave the pool in Pagosa Springs.

Since Williams took over the Pagosa Porpoises swim team two years ago, the team has grown to 38 swimmers, consisting of Masters, special needs, and school-age swimmers, ages 6 to 18. The team competes in meets in Durango, Cortez, Ouray, Gunnison, Montrose, Rangely, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Farmington, N.M. Williams also received a special invitation in 2008 to bring some of his swimmers to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a swim meet.

With a balanced, dedicated team, Williams, along with Egan, guided the Pagosa swimmers through two very successful seasons. Over the last two years, the Porpoises have had swimmers place in the Colorado State high school meet, state Junior Olympics, Special Olympics, Zone Championships (which consists of 13 western states including Alaska and Hawaii), and many regional meets. They have also added two Colorado State individual records to the Colorado Swimming Record Book, which the Porpoises have not achieved in almost 10 years. As a team, the Pagosa Porpoises have finished second in three different invitational meets, first in two, and fifth at the Colorado Seasonal State Championship Meet in 2007.

Even more importantly, said Williams, 75 percent of his swimmers make their school honor rolls consistently, and six of his swimmers have gone on to colleges in the state, many of them still swimming. “My goal is to develop a team of achievers from all ages of life and the community,” said Williams. “We incorporate special needs, beginning athletes just looking for a place to belong, as well as those looking for a fulfilled success. I have tried to combine athletics with scholastic achievement, as both woven together creates a successful individual.”

Another goal is to eventually have a high school swim team in Pagosa Springs, revolving around the USA team that will be competitive in state high school swimming. Williams has worked with Durango High School with members of the boys’ and girls’ teams in their 2007 and 2008 seasons, with four swimmers making it to the high school state championships in both those years. In 2009, the Porpoises will hopefully send four girls and six boys to Durango to compete with the high school team.