LONGMONT — About 12 years ago, and over the course of several seasons, Marie Huff steadily became a fixture at the swim meets for Longmont High School.
It wasn’t exactly planned. Yet as Huff’s three oldest children passed through the Longmont program, she became ever more lured to not only the pool in general, but the Trojans’ squad in particular.
Before long Huff, a veteran youth club coach, offered to lend a helping hand whenever Longmont needed it. Soon she was contacted about joining the program as an assistant coach. Before she could make her decision, Huff ended up being offered the suddenly-vacant head coach position.
Since taking over the Longmont girls program in 1998, Huff has been a fixture with both Trojans swim programs. But with her oldest child, Longmont senior Tony Huff, nearing the end of his Trojans career, coach Huff has decided it’s time to move on as well.
The stretch run of the boys swim season will mark Huff’s final waves at Longmont. While Tony Huff will continue his career at the University of Wyoming, Marie Huff has decided to step aside after nearly a decade and a half of leading the Longmont swim program.
“I’m not going to miss all the planning and having to coordinate things with the school. That stuff gets tough,” Coach Huff said. “But I’m really going to miss being around those kids on the team. There is nothing better than to watch some of those kids, maybe not the top guys but the kids that really need to be part of a team. You see them start to take their times down it means so much to them.
“I just feel like it’s time to get someone in with some new ideas. Maybe someone with fresh energy and enthusiasm, which I’m running out of.”
Huff led the Longmont girls team from 1998 through the 2008-09 campaign. She took over the boys program in 2000 and has watched the Trojans rise and fall through several peaks and valleys.
In 2001, Huff led the Longmont boys to a third-place finish in the team standings at the Class 5A finals, winning both freestyle relay state titles while J.D. White took first in the 200 freestyle.
White captured a repeat 200 freestyle title in 2002 and also added a state championship in the 100 freestyle. Erik Ringdahl won a pair of individual titles in 2003 as the Trojans moved into Class 4A, but Huff and the Trojans endured a series of lean seasons during the middle of the decade.
In recent years the program has re-emerged as a 4A power, thanks largely to Tony Huff and fellow senior Connor Dwyer.
Marie Huff has witnessed an unusual merging of her duties as a parent and a coach over the past year after her son suffered a frustratingly silly injury on the eve of last year’s state finals. While playing tag with teammates at the team hotel, Tony Huff tripped and suffered a broken wrist.
During his absence from the pool, Marie Huff watched her son blossom in other endeavors. His grades climbed to an all-time high. He became heavily involved in the school choir. And when he finally decided that college swimming was something he wanted to pursue — an idea that never was a certainty — Tony Huff returned to the pool with renewed focus.
“I think getting away from swimming for a while, I really started to appreciate it more,” said Tony Huff, who placed seventh in the 100 freestyle at the 4A finals two years ago. “I’ve been training better this year because I have bigger inner drive.”
Both Huffs are aiming to leave Longmont with a much more rewarding experience than the Trojans endured last year at state. In addition to Tony Huff’s untimely injury, then-senior Zach Nahman was unable to compete due to a sudden and severe flu attack, leaving Longmont without two of the swimmers that had given the Trojans the top-ranked team in the 200 freestyle relay.
They are expecting much better things this year for coach Huff’s finale. Dwyer is the defending champion in the 100 breaststroke, and he will team with Tony Huff to make the Trojans a formidable force in the relay events.
“That 2001 team was definitely a highlight. I thought I’d have that every year,” Marie Huff said. “Tony being done has had a lot to do with this. I’ve been saying for a lot of years that that would be my last year. I kind of got thrown into coaching without any high school experience, but it has been a wonderful time.”
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07