The Fairview Knights girls swim program will have familiar faces taking over for the upcoming season.
Francoise Bentley and Stacey Tobey have a combined 23 years of coaching experience with the Fairview program and worked under former head coach Bob Smartt, who led the program for nearly two decades. Following his retirement, Bentley and Tobey were called on to step in as the head coaches for this season.
“I think Bob (Smartt) led the way,” Tobey said. “There is a lot of tradition that we carry on following in his footsteps, but we will put our own little twist on things. We are comfortable taking over. It’s been a nice, natural step.”
Their years coaching within the program has helped the transition for the athletes and those involved with the program, they added.
“It’s nice knowing three-fourths of our athletes coming in and the support from the parents,” Bentley said. “We want to keep things running and grow it in the way that we should.”
Now stepping in, Bentley and Tobey hope that they can continue the winning ways with the Fairview program.
Fairview is coming off winning the state title in convincing fashion in Class 5A last season, beating Fossil Ridge by 117.5 points. The Knights have finished in the top three at state in each of the last seven seasons, and in doing so becoming one of the marquee teams in their classification.
This year, however, the Knights are not focused on being in the hunt for a state championship to start the preseason, in large part due to a big senior class that graduated who played a major role in Fairview’s championship run. The focus from the coaches for now is to see improvement from the entire team in times and performances in the pool and to build a culture of hard work to lead the way.
“Our main mission is that there is improvement from every athlete,” Bentley said. “That comes out of our lettering standards. One of our main lettering guidelines that we changed is you can letter if you improve by 10 percent in time in your main events and if you attended fully this season. If you attend fully, you’ll probably improve by that 10 percent.”
A handful of meets before the winter break will give the team the chance to see which swimmers will emerge and lead the group for the season, and for the coaches, they hope it will establish a new identity while keeping some of the winning traits with it to build on moving forward.
“We’re both extremely excited to be where we are,” Tobey said. “It’s been a huge adjustment because Bob did a lot of things for us so we can show up and just coach. At first we were a little overwhelmed, which is kind of changing things and making it our own. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s so great to be on deck and to see how excited the girls are.”